A new defence and aerospace industry development fund is to be established to help local SMEs access defence contracts both directly and through supply chain opportunities under a new Queensland government defence industries 10-year roadmap and action plan.
The fund is just one initiative out of $15 million worth of industry development programs that will underpin the Queensland government vision to build the state’s defence sector into a $7 billion industry by 2028.
Another key initiative under the 10-year plan is a series of initiatives aimed at attracting major defence projects to Queensland.
A dedicated Queensland Minister’s defence council is to be established to provide policy and strategic advice on industry development and investment attraction.
Members of the council would include senior representatives from government, specialist defence advisors, industry associations and local government. The council’s initial members include retired Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, retired Rear Admiral Simon Cullen and retired Air Vice-Marshal Neil Hart.
In addition, the state is to allocate $10 million to establish defence supply chain logistics hubs in Townsville and Ipswich.
The hubs would become a source of advice and expertise, with a focus on regional supply chain logistics, as well as maintenance. Consultations on the hubs are planned for late 2018.
State development and manufacturing minister Cameron Dick said the support for the defence sector through these initiatives could see the creation of 3500 new jobs.
“The federal government’s Defence White Paper and the pace of technological change presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for defence suppliers,” he said.
“I want to see Queensland businesses reap the benefits.”
The 10-year defence industries roadmap and action plan is part of the state government’s Advance Queensland initiative.
Defence was identified as one of the emerging priority industries that the government would support under Advance Queensland in a move to ramp up the state’s global competitiveness.
Other sectors that were identified included advanced manufacturing, aerospace, biofutures, biomedicial, and mining, equipment, technology and services.
Like other roadmaps released by the Queensland government during the last two years, this latest one was developed through consultation with industry, as well as investment and research partners and the Queensland public.
The release of the 10-year plan comes just as other states like Victoria and South Australia hone their focus on developing their defence sector. Those in Queensland, however, argue that based on recent wins, they’re the ones leading the charge.
German military manufacturer Rheinmetall recently chose Queensland over Victoria for the location of its new headquarters and the establishment of its $170 million Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) facility to support the build of $5 billion worth of light armoured vehicles for the Australian Army.
The federal government also recently chose to base the Defence Cooperative Research Centre for Trusted Autonomous Systems (DCRC TAS) in Queensland, which represents a $101 million investment from the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Queensland government.
When established, DCRC TAS would be a hub for the Defence Science and Technology Group, universities and industry to collaborate on the delivery of smart-machine technologies for maritime, land and aerospace.
It would also aid in the development of STEM careers and assist in the rapid transition of technology from universities into industry.
Defence is also getting a boost at a national level. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the federal government will invest $1.4 billion and acquire the first of six remotely that it will develop and produce with the United States Navy, as part of a $200 million cooperative program.