WA gears up for defence dollars

Christopher Pyne

Business groups and SMEs lined up to hear from defence industry heavy hitters about the industry and how they can jump on board the supply chain at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s inaugural WA Defence Conference last Thursday.

Defence Minister Industry Christopher Pyne told the conference there were “unprecedented opportunities” for WA because there was “unprecedented spending” on the table from the Government, which will see $195 billion invested in defence capability to 2025-26.

He said there were opportunities for those in the oil and gas industry to diversify into defence.

KPMG’s Lead partner Defence Industry Mike Kalms said businesses need to prepare themselves now for the influx of work in the defence sector, including learning how to “speak the language of defence”.

He said it wasn’t a simple matter of SME’s rocking up to prime contractors and telling them what they could offer but required planning and investment to become “defence ready”.

Conference goers also heard from Rheinmetall Defence Chief Operating Officer Gary Stewart urging WA suppliers to pitch their capabilities to the company, Austal’s SEA 1180 Bid Manager Richard Liley and Lockheed Martin’s Non-Executive Director Kim Beazley.

“Australia is the midst of an “arms race” that will ultimately benefit defence suppliers to the Asian and America regions,” said Kim Beazley to the sold-out Doing Business with Defenceconference.

“I don’t actually think we’re spending much on defence,” he said, when asked if Australia was doing enough to ensure the nation’s decade-long $195 billion defence acquisition project became a sustainable industry. “And I don’t think we are spending in an unsustainable way given the competing requirements of a budget,” he said.

Beazley pointed to signs emerging from the US that President-elect Donald Trump’s regime would revert to a “peace through strength” strategy in Asia, which would see America take a more aggressive approach in the South China Sea dispute, for example.

Beazley was appointed in June to the Australian board of Lockheed Martin, recently named as combat system integrator for the $50 billion Future Submarines project. The company is also supplying the new generation F-35 fighter jets to Australia.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said the conference was a great chance for SME’s to engage with key decision makers, make new contacts and learn strategic information that would enable them to enter the defence supply chain.

“Western Australia is home to a world-class defence industry – we have already been awarded millions in defence contracts and we have the skill and experience to go even further in shipbuilding, sustainment and maintenance,” she said.

“The theme of today’s conference was ‘doing business with defence’ – CCI wanted to provide a platform for small and medium sized businesses to connect with prime contractors and political leaders, to give them the insight they need to get their foot-in-the-door in the burgeoning defence sector.”

Speakers and Presenters:

  • Deidre Willmott – Chief Executive Officer – Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA – Welcome, Conference Open and Launch WA Defence Directory.
  • Gary Stewart – Chief Operating Officer – Rheinmetall Defence – Global supply chain and Australian Industry Capability for contemporary Rheinmetall programs in Australia.
  • Kim Beazley AC – Lockheed Martin – Non-Executive Director – Lockheed Martin as an example of the value to Australian industry in the presence of a global prime contractor. How vital is our industry in the new strategic climate in our region.
  • Scott Elson – L3 Oceania – Director Sales and Marketing – Dealing with Defence – A local success story.
  • Andrew Garth – CDIC – General Manager – CDIC as an enabler for industry.
  • Political Panel Sponsored by GRA Everingham and Mediated by Eric Ripper – Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Hon. Michael Mischin MLC
  • Craig Valli – ECU – Professor – The fifth domain of Defence and its impact on the other four.
  • Dr Andrew Davies – ASPI – Director Defence & Strategy Program – A Canberra insider’s view of Defence.
  • Commodore Steve Tiffen – CASG – Director General Major Surface Ships – CASG post principle review; key strategic reforms.
  • Mike Kalms – KPMG – Lead Partner Defence Industry – The business of Defence
  • Sharon Wilson – BAE Systems – Head of Industrial Strategy – Industry policy from an industry prospective – meeting the challenge.
  • Richard Liley – Austal – SEA 1180 Bid Manager – Building Australia’s Sovereign Shipbuilding Capability – The Austal Story
  • Hon Christopher Pyne MP – Minister for Defence Industry
  • Paul Stephenson – C.H. Robinson – National Manager Corporate Support – Continuous Improvement in Global Supply Chain Logistics.
  • Steve Richards – Serco – Managing Director for Defence – Digitization of Defence
  • Networking Drinks Sponsored by WA Works

► Missed out on attending the WA Defence Conference 2016? Download the attendee eBook here featuring premium defence content.

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