The commitment of The Defence White Paper 2016 to an increase in Defence spending to 2% GDP (in the vicinity of 200 billion over the next decade) has been catalyst to a significant change in the landscape of Australian defence industries.
To us as a nation, the invigoration of Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability presents the opportunity to develop our sovereign defence capability; that is, the ability to create and sustain capabilities critical to defending our national interests.
Margot Forster, CEO
What does this mean for the Defence Industry?
This has completely changed the nature of the defence industry environment. Gone are the days where the default acquisition position was to buy the best capability for the best available dollar value. The new element in that decision making process is:
- Is it a sovereign defence capability?
- Can we develop the capacity to build it onshore?
For our defence industry to understand and deliver on this, strong industry associations are critical. For over 20 years, organisations such the Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) and the Australian Industry Defence Network (AIDN) have played similar roles in promoting and supporting Australian SMEs, and ensuring they understand and connect with opportunities in the market.
With future contracts signalling great potential for Australian companies to get involved, there is now significantly more at stake. In order to develop Australian sovereign defence capability, Australian industry, and the organisations assisting them need to step up. Minister Pyne recognised this need, and as a result the Centre for Defence Industry Capability was created.
The Defence Teaming Centre
For over 20 years, the DTC as proved to be a strong industry association. In collaboration with Defence SA, and with investment from the state government it has delivered a professional service to SMEs. The single focus of its staff is to engage with and support members towards industry success. The value of our work is recognised by companies in other states, and our membership now expands across South Australian borders.
The shift away from AIDN National
With the changed focus of the Defence Industry, came the need to grow. We were adapting and professionalising at a rate faster than the AIDN National Committee, and late last year we decided that it was in our member’s best interests that we step away from the governance structure of AIDN National, as it was preventing us from giving the most effective service to our members.
The withdrawal from AIDN national will have no impact on our members who will continue to receive the same support they have over the past 20 years. DTC also continues to work with the AIDN state chapters. In particular we have formed strong alliances with like-minded organisations such as AIDN Victoria (also recently separated from AIDN National), and in WA with the Henderson Alliance.
New partnerships and new opportunities
These alliances mean that the DTC can establish new partnerships, create nationally focussed pathways for SMEs across Australia, and share the strengths and professional capabilities of each of those three organisations.
Happily, the value that the DTC brings to the industry environment is recognised by the Federal government, and here, leaving AIDN National has opened the door to new opportunities. The Federal government departments now seek to engage directly with DTC.
A strong voice shaping policy
Through the separation from AIDN National and standing in our own right as a strong industry body, we have the opportunity to effectively influence the development of policy that affects our members. Our voice is heard in Canberra. Another achievement is membership with Australian Industry Group Defence Council. The DTC now has a seat on the executive Defence Council, which again ensures a clear and strong representation for members in situations and environments where policy is shaped.
Our aim is to engage Defence Industry Associations in each state, as well as engaging state government departments that focus on supporting Defence. This effort will be productive in building effective relationships that will provide better outcomes for all Australian SMEs.
Through our strong relationships with Claire Willett the CEO of AIDN Victoria and Charlotte Morris who manages the Victorian Defence Alliances, along with the Henderson Alliance in WA, the DTC is identifying opportunities to work together.
Each state and each of the industry associations around the nation have their own strengths. By pooling these strengths and by sharing our professional knowledge we can ensure that a consistent and highly valuable service is provided to SMEs around the country. If we waste our time competing, rather than finding ways to collaborate and be more competitive than international companies, we will lose to those international companies.
The Defence Industrial Capability Plan
The delivery of the DICP can only be done on a whole of nation basis. The answer is not in any one state. The answer is for states and companies around the nation to work together to raise Australia’s industrial capability. The answer is to ensure that as much of the work as possible is done by Australians, who work for Australian companies, so that the wealth stays in Australia.
DTC’s role in the landscape
Working in collaboration with government and industry associations throughout Australia, DTC will continue to look for the ways and the strategies for increasing the opportunities for Australian businesses to grow, to develop technologies, to bid for contracts and to be successful.