Cirrus MD on Defence attitude to Australian technology sector

Cirrus managing director Peter Freed has highlighted some of the shifting policies on the part of Australian defence agencies around developing closer links with domestic technology suppliers.

Speaking to Defence Connect, Freed recalled how he had championed the cause of encouraging local talent and content, along with arguing the case for building sovereign capabilities.

"My observation is that it's been something akin to a pendulum," he said. "When I first started this business two decades ago, defence had a reasonable willingness to work with local players on small projects to do things which have a risk of technical failure."

Freed outlined that at that time there was an acceptance that risk could prove worthwhile in relation to the benefits resulting from those instances where technical success followed suit.

"There were some very prominent examples of technical successes which did make that business case quite worthwhile," he said.

"[But] over the middle period of our business, we observed a pendulum swinging against that, and quite an aversion from defence overall to undertaking any developmental risk with organisations in Australia – and a preference to buying things essentially off the shelf from overseas. In my view that was a fraught approach, but that is the approach that was taken."

The Cirrus MD said that over the past few years, the pendulum has been swinging back once more.

"I’m pleased to [also] see… a willingness to accept a degree of technical risk," Freed said.

"Obviously on smaller size projects it's more reasonable to accept a degree of risk than it is on mega, billion-dollar projects, and that is creating a space for organisations like mine to participate in. But we are cognisant that a reward needs to be there for the Commonwealth to take on some risk."

Freed emphasised that in those cases where projects were successful, the Commonwealth should gain an overall advantage from having adopted such an approach.

"And we believe that is the case," he said.

To hear more from the Cirrus MD, listen to our podcast here.

Cirrus MD on Defence attitude to Australian technology sector
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