NSW launches new Defence and Industry strategy

New South Wales has become the first state to devise a specific response to the federal government’s publication of its inaugural Defence Integrated Investment Program, which has earmarked $195 billion of investment over the next ten years in new Australian Defence Force capabilities as Defence spending is progressively increased to two per cent of GDP by 2020/21.

Released just prior to the Avalon Airshow, the NSW Government’s new Defence and Industry Strategy is entitled  ‘NSW: Strong, Smart and Connected’.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry, Niall Blair, confirmed the core of the strategy centred around the creation of a new coordinating organisation to be called ‘Defence NSW’.

The new organisation will specifically take on responsibility for coordinating all Defence and defence industry-related activities for the NSW Government, while also being charged with stewardship of the new strategy and responsibility for delivering it across NSW through fostering and utilising regional networks. This approach “will focus the state’s support for Defence and industry and provide whole-of-government leadership, advocacy and engagement with the sector,” said Blair.

NSW is home to over 80 Defence bases and facilities (said to be more than any other state), with the Department of Defence’s operational expenditure in the state estimated at $5.5 billion annually. Defence and NSW-based industry supported by this expenditure are said in the Strategy to directly employ over 26,500 people – representing another first in terms of NSW being able to claim it is home to the highest number of workers with skills relevant to Defence. Added to this is NSW being home to several world-class universities and other leading research and development institutions.

The principal objective of the new NSW Defence and Industry Strategy, therefore, is to bring all these resources more closely together in order to: support Defence in its objectives; assist Defence in the delivery of its acquisition targets; and maximise the economic opportunities for NSW businesses and communities. To achieve these outcomes, the Strategy outlines five key areas of activity, comprising:

Fostering stronger relationships with Defence and across NSW defence-industry at a state and regional level;

leveraging NSW’s strengths in critical capability areas to grow existing work and create new Defence and defence-industry activity;

providing Defence and defence-industry with their future workforce;

sustaining and growing existing and new Defence and defence-industry activity across regional NSW; and

increasing opportunities for innovation, commercialisation and research within Defence and defence-industry.

The new Defence NSW organisation will in turn establish itself as:

the contact point for the Department of Defence, defence-related Commonwealth departments, defence companies, defence industry bodies, and defence-related research organisations;

a dedicated organisation that identifies and drives opportunities to collaborate, partner and support the growth of the NSW defence sector;

assuming responsibility for defence and industry attraction and expansion in NSW;

becoming the lead promoter of the state’s defence-industry and research capabilities;

supporting access for NSW defence-related companies to procurement and supply chain opportunities both locally and internationally; and

being accountable to and inclusive of key stakeholders in the NSW defence sector.

The new Defence and Industry Strategy accordingly looks well beyond central Sydney for the delivery of its initiatives, with a significant proportion of Defence NSW’s service delivery to be coordinated through regional centres. Each centre will in turn be charged with identifying:

a regional organisational sponsor;

a regional implementation plan (which outlines the local region’s strategies for sustained growth and responsiveness to emerging Defence and defence-industry needs);

and identifying opportunities and prioritising support (in terms of initiating investment, jobs and exports); and allocating resources linked to need and success measures.

Each regional centre under the new Defence and Industry Strategy will also be responsible for effective relationship management with local Defence establishments and defence-industry stakeholders, and including:

Defence bases and units (particularly in terms of assisting with access to state services and maximising collaboration across the state);

local defence-industry stakeholders in relation to accessing state services and maximising collaboration across the state;

regional Defence industry associations; universities and research universities;

and local councils.

The new Defence and Industry Strategy next breaks down each of the five activity areas into sixteen sub-initiatives designed to achieve desired outcomes, which are then individually mapped to six regions across the state: Sydney (incorporating City/Harbour, Western Sydney and Central West); Northern NSW (incorporating North Coast and New England); South Coast (incorporating the Illawarra and Shoalhaven); the Hunter (incorporating Williamtown, Singleton and Newcastle); and the Capital Region (incorporating Goulburn and Queanbeyan).

While the focus on the new NSW Defence and Industry Strategy appears mainly on ensuring local enterprises maximise their share of Defence’s sustainment spend by targeting military facilities across the state, the strategy also proposes to rigorously pursue new Defence business opportunities, such as: the Joint Strike Fighter (AIR 6000); the Air Force’s Future Battle Management System (project AIR 6500); Army Combat Vehicles (LAND 400); and the Navy’s Future Submarines (SEA 1000), Offshore Patrol Vessels (SEA 1180) and Future Frigate (SEA 5000).