Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Senator Linda Reynolds have announced a spending package in Defence to stimulate the economy as it continues to founder due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $1 billion package will be invested in bringing forward some projects, in the recruitment of additional reservists, in works programs in the Defence estate in regional and bushfire affected regions, in additional cyber training and innovation grants, and in additional investment into sustainment of some capabilities.
“Like much of the economy, our local defence industry is doing it tough because of COVID-19,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. “This is especially so for small and medium sized businesses, that are critical to jobs.
“We want to build our sovereign industrial capabilities and Australian workforce to keep our people safe,” he added. “We will also support our ADF members and families, particularly any Reservists who are doing it tough because of COVID-19.”
The Defence Minister added, “Already we’ve fast-tracked a range of capability, infrastructure, skilling, and workforce initiatives over the next two years. This includes rolling out a number of Defence estate works tenders as part of Defence’s economic stimulus initiative package, that will run over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years.
“Already, over $11 billion has been provided in early payment for invoices and work to improve or sustain industry capacity for the delivery of critical supplies,” she said. “We’re getting on with the job of delivering critical capability outcomes to Army, Air Force, and Navy, as well as continuing to support our personnel, including ADF Reserve members.”
Following is a summary of the investment announcement:
- The ADF’s 27,500 Active Reserve members will be allocated an extra 210,000 days, and there will be a targeted recruitment of an additional 500 Reservists for part-time employment of an average of 50 days per year. There will also be additional support extended to some ADF personnel who may have otherwise left the ADF due to medical reasons.
- Additional support will be provided to ADF partners to find employment through the Defence Partner Employment Assistance Program (PEAP)
- A $300 million national estate works program previously announced in May 2020 will be accelerated, and will focus on regional and bushfire-affected areas such as Jervis Bay, Eden, RAAF Bases East Sale, Pearce, Wagga and Amberley, the Albury Wodonga Military Area, and Blamey Barracks. About $190 million of investment in approved infrastructure projects at Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin, Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, and the Delamere Air Weapons Range in the Northern Territory will also be brought forward.
- There will be increased funding for Defence innovation, industry grants, skilling and micro credentialing, and cyber training for Defence industry.
Investments will also be made in capability, including:
- Standardisation of the ADF’s Bushmaster Protective Mobility Vehicle (PMV) fleet which will bring forward vehicle modifications, upgrades, and engineering works for the vehicles.
- There will also be an acceleration in the delivery of a new Navy uniform and an initial lot of modernisation initiatives such as non-steel cap working boots.
- The RAAF’s C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter support workforce will be bolstered by the recruitment of an additional 38 former Qantas and Virgin Australia engineering and technical personnel at RAAF Richmond and Amberley.
- The delivery of a boarding party simulator and training centre for Maritime Security Operations at HMAS Coonawarra will be accelerated.
- The acquisition of 251 EOS R400 Mk2 remote weapons stations (RWS) for Bushmaster and Hawkei PMVs – previously announced in July – will be accelerated.
- An additional investment of an unspecified amount will be made to the Air Force Minor Program DEF 6014 Phase 1 Loyal Wingman Advanced Capability Development Program.
- An investment in a Sovereign Tactical Communication Network, a proof of concept program to demonstrate Australian industry’s capabilities to design, produce, and integrate a battlefield command system.
- Bringing forward the construction of the South West Pacific Large Hull Vessel which will be used for humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) in our region, and which was previously announced by former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in November 2018.
- The investment will also bring forward the procurement of four Australian-built deployable containerised data centres. The Minister announced separately that Canberra-based company Datapod Australia had been awarded a $20 million contract for the four deployable data centres.
The Government will also provide additional funding and grants for the following:
- The Defence Innovation Hub to undertake additional targeted investments in defence industry for the development of innovative technology.
- An additional $24 million in funding for the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants program for Australian SMEs.
- Additional funding for individuals to undertake shipbuilding-relevant training and upskilling through the Naval Shipbuilding College.
- Increased capacity for the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre to provide class cyber training courses to Australian industry and supply chains.