Western Australia’s new Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia has outlined the state’s latest plans for maximising the local defence industry – establish a new office, a defence advocate and a new expo.
Since being elected to State Parliament in March, Labor MP Paul Papalia has been working to develop WA's defence industry and has plans to create a new office known as Defence West.
Minister Papalia said the state will also appoint a defence advocate, in line with those appointed by NSW, Victoria, South Australia and ACT.
"We're about to take cabinet submission to establish an office for Defence West and we'll be looking at a defence advocate and advisory board," said the minister.
But in a more ambitious move, the minister said state government is taking inspiration from Sydney's Pacific International Maritime Exposition and are working to establish a biennial show in WA.
"We'll also be moving to establish a biennial expo here in Western Australia for the Indian Ocean region, to replicate one that's done in Sydney for the Pacific region," Minister Papalia said.
Minister Papalia told Defence Connect he intends to have the Indian Ocean focused expo in Perth, on the off-year from the Pacific one in Sydney.
Despite the minister's disappointment with the current allocation of shipbuilding work in Australia, Minister Papalia is highly optimistic of the state's capabilities outside of the naval industry and is hoping to be at the forefront of building it up.
"I think actually, Western Australia has an unparalleled shipbuilding capability, and the greatest concentration of defence-related prime contractors and small to medium enterprises of any capital in the nation," said Minister Papalia.
"We've got a lot of remote vehicle, or unmanned vehicle type knowledge in the schools in Western Australia, that's at a number of our universities ... Murdoch University has UAV drone research, they do other research in intelligence and security that could be applicable.
Subscribe to the Defence Connect daily newsletter.
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the defence industry.
"Cowan University leads the nation, really, in some of its development of delivering security courses or graduates with PhDs in physical security and terrorism and cyber security. We've got UWA (University of Western Australia), [they] do a lot of ocean unmanned vehicle type research they ... have a lot of oceanography knowledge."
With these capabilities in mind, the minister told Defence Connect that developing the state's industry is not as daunting a task as one might expect, as he believes WA has the right key players and skills available.
"I think we have the technology and the know-how, and the flexibility and innovation focused industry in Western Australia," Minister Papalia said.