Do it right and do it well – Australia’s sovereign capabilities

The 2016 Defence White Paper and other key Defence documents have spoken extensively of developing and expanding Australias sovereign capabilities. But focusing on this development and expansion has been the subject of much debate. Defence Connect spoke with AMGC’s managing director for his insight and advice for the industry.

Managing director of Australian Manufacturing Growth Centre, and former managing director of Airbus Group Australia Pacific, Jens Goennemann told Defence Connect attempting to build up every defence capability is not the best way forward.

Goennemann recommended the process of developing these sovereign capabilities should be done by embracing 'elements'.

"By trying to do everything a little bit, we will not utilise, and play to, our strengths; let's focus," Goennemann said.

"Let's find the elements which are absolutely dear for us, which are the elements – which are the 'must do's' for us. Let's look into work packages which gives us depth of knowledge, where we can utilise existing knowledge and make it even more competitive, and be really, really good at it, instead of doing everything a little bit."

Goennemann said, in the case of Australia's naval shipbuilding capabilities, the focus on who builds the 12 Future Submarines and where they are built is irrelevant in the grand scheme of developing Australia's capabilities.

"It's like with the car manufacturing. It's not about the assembly, where a submarine or a ship is being assembled. And so far I'm standing a bit amused on the sideline and see again, the battle of who assembles it, and where should the assembly be," he said.

"The question is 'How do I, as a country, as a company, as a state, as a community, get into that moonshot opportunity and do something smart. Something that is unique, something that is requiring skills and further developing skills. What makes me, as a supplier, indispensable in the defence and in the non-defence space?'"

To hear more from Jens Goennemann, listen to the Defence Connect podcast here.

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