Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne has declared that taken together the Defence White Paper, Integrated Investment Program and Defence Industry Policy Statement documents are set to “transform” the relationship between Defence and industry, which she said is “at the heart of delivering capability” for the Australian Defence Force.
“The Turnbull government is committed to forming a new partnership with Australian industry, and recognises the vital role an internationally competitive Australian defence industry plays in providing critical services and in the development of cutting-edge Defence capabilities,” the Defence Minister said in a speech at the launch of the 2016 Defence White Paper.
“Defence has also partnered with industry to develop the new Defence Industry Policy Statement; this sets the framework for Defence and industry to work more closely through the capability development cycle.”
The document states that the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement was put together following a consultation process that was part of the development of the White Paper that identified the need to “reset and refocus” the relationship between Defence and industry in order to improve the delivery of capability, ensure that opportunities for competitive Australian businesses are maximised and streamline industry programs.
Industry is to be given an “earlier and stronger voice” across capability life-cycles, including formal recognition of industry as representing a fundamental input to capability.
The Industry Policy Statement calls for a “more focused, coordinated and transparent” relationship, and says Defence will streamline its engagement with industry and academia, thereby simplifying access to research funding.
Meanwhile, the federal government will “streamline” tendering and contracting, the document adds, in an effort to make it simpler and less costly for Australian industry to support Defence. And greater competitiveness and export potential are to be encouraged.
Minister Payne said that 35 defence industry and innovation programs are being reduced to two “focused” initiatives, with funding of about $1.6 billion until 2025-26 made available in total.
A new Centre for Defence Industry Capability is set to be established; “led by an advisory board comprised of private sector and Defence representatives to drive the strategic partnership with Defence [it will] involve industry in governance of the industry programs and provide a range of business and skilling services”, with funding of about $230 million.
The drive to foster a “new approach to innovation” through closer collaboration between Defence, industry and research organisations attracts two streams of funding: $730 million for the Next Generation Technologies Fund, which will invest in technologies that are considered to have the potential to deliver game-changing capabilities; and $640 million for the new Defence Innovation Hub, which is billed as a means of undertaking collaborative activities from initial concept, through prototyping and testing, to introduction into service.
As he launched the 2016 Defence White Paper, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that the benefits would spill over into the wider economy. “The government recognises that a strong, competitive and sustainable Australian defence industry is vital to support our armed forces,” he said.
“For the first time in any Defence White Paper, we are releasing today a Defence Integrated Investment Program and a new Defence Industry Policy Statement; it will give industry the certainty it needs to invest and plan for the future; it will foster a new level of cooperation with industry, and harness the innovation and the technological expertise that exists in our own local Australian industry.
“The White Paper is more than simply a roadmap to achieve a strong and sustainable Defence capability; indeed, our investments in Australian industry and technologies will generate benefits beyond the Australian defence industrial base.”