Australia at a capability crossroads: A Call for Papers

James Riley
Editorial Director

Deadline extended to 28 April 2023

Australian industrial policy is at a crossroads, with an active public discussion underway that seeks to map the nation’s domestic capability across a swathe of strategic industries and critical technologies now underway.

As the world moves into a more uncertain period of heightened geopolitical competition and the fracturing of supply chains, Australia must decide where it can legitimately invest resources to build industry capability and industrial capacity.

Today, is putting out a call for papers for a signature program for 2023 that we call The Capability Papers.

We are seeking issues papers from domain experts – whether from business, corporates, research institutions, academia, industry associations or other not-for-profits – that can identify opportunities to develop and build Australian expertise.

Please send your outline for an issues paper to by COB Friday April 21. Papers are expected from corporates, academics and industry associations and other not-for-profits.

The Capability Papers initiative incorporates four industry-specific forum events across four Australian cities and culminates in the launch of a newspaper-format publication that features the best contributions from some of the best thinkers on industrial development in their areas of domain expertise.

We are calling for expressions of interest from potential participants and authors. Do you have view on an issue of strategic capability development? Do you have a view on opportunities for Australia to develop capacity in emerging industries of strategic importance?

Successful applicants will have their paper published in The Capability Papers and the website and will have the opportunity to present their ideas at a The Capability Papers [Live] event in Canberra in October.

There are important questions about Australian expertise and capacity for delivery that requires an honest and urgent appraisal.

What are we good at? Where do we hold genuine comparative advantage? What strategic capability and critical industries that must exist onshore in this country, and which of these require sovereign control?

Where should we invest to build sovereign capability, and where does it make more sense to partner with others?

Where can Australia most sensibly plug into global supply chains?

The supply chain pressures that were exposed during the COVID crisis are well known, and have put a spotlight on broader issues of domestic capability and areas strategic importance.

The Capability Papers will cover everything from critical minerals processing to the local manufacture of batteries. We would welcome papers on the general technologies where Australia has genuine capability – from quantum tech to remote automation and artificial intelligence.

Equally, we welcome contributions from companies building dual-use technologies (across Defence and commercial applications), from satellites to sensors to rockets to cybersecurity.

The four Capability Papers events to be held across the country are:

“There is an active public debate in Australia right now about critical and emerging technologies, and strategies for building the nation’s industrial capacity,” said publisher Corrie McLeod.

“Through discussions around the AUKUS partnership, the Quad relationships, and the current political debates about the shape of the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, industry development policy is getting a huge amount of attention.

“Policymakers seek to understand what we are good at here in this country, where we can build new industries, and where we can fit into global supply chains. But they are also looking to understand where we are better off sourcing products or technology from offshore, or partnering with offshore providers.”

The Capability Papers program builds on the success last year of The Innovation Papers. Instead of specific policy ideas, we are looking for issues papers that identify where Australia has existing capability, where it has gaps, and how the nation can build new capacity.

Whether you are with a corporate, a research institution, an Australian tech provider or a not-for-profit, we want to hear from you! How should Australia build its domestic capability, where should we invest our time and energy? And where should we be partnering with others to achieve these goals.

Please contact us at with expressions of interest by the close of business on April 21. Or simply call James Riley to discuss.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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