Spending on defence innovation of about $110 million will be brought forward as the federal government looks to support SMEs and prop up the supply chain in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled on Wednesday a $1 billion investment package aimed at boosting Australia’s defence industry and supporting thousands of jobs in the sector.
The package is being spun as a COVID-19 stimulus package and consists mostly of already budgeted portfolio expenditure, brought forward over the next two years.
“Like much of the economy, our local defence industry is doing it tough because of COVID-19. This is especially so for small and medium-sized businesses, that are critical to jobs,” Mr Morrison said.
“Supporting our defence industry is all part of our JobMaker plan – especially high-paying, high-skilled jobs that ensure we are supporting a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry. We want to build our sovereign industrial capabilities and Australian workforce to keep our people safe.”
Of the package, about $110 million is going towards defence innovation, through industry grants, skilling and micro-credentialing and cyber-training.
Mr Morrison made the announcement at DATAPOD, a Canberra-based manufacturer of data centres, which will be receiving a two-year, $20 million contract to provide Defence with portable, containerised data systems to be rapidly deployed by sea, air or road.
By bringing forward this planned investment, the government said up to 27 direct jobs would be protected and up to 80 supply chain jobs.
“We want to ensure defence industry continues to provide vital supply chains to develop and maintain defence capabilities, as we look at opportunities to accelerate projects across Australia,” Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said.
‘These projects will support and grow the 70,000 strong workforce in defence industry supply chains and those benefiting from our investment in defence. We are committed to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises across Australian defence industry, with programs that will support regional areas, including bushfire affected communities.”
The Commonwealth will also be accelerating $200 million in funding for various projects to develop and deliver capability, providing jobs in manufacturing, construction and high tech.
Mr Morrison last month unveiled a $270 billion defence plan over the next decade, with more than $7 billion to be spent on transforming how Australia’s defence force operates in space.
The 2020 Cyber Security Strategy was also recently released, comprising $1.7 billion in reappropriated defence spending.