Updated Defence strategy a timely response to geopolitical tensions

“The announcement today of a new updated strategy for Australia’s defence arrangements is a strong and timely response to rising geo-political tensions and uncertainty. The directions announced will make Australia more resilient and better equipped to meet potential challenges and will require further development of domestic defence industry capabilities,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“Ai Group welcomes the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the 2020 Force Structure Plan, which set clear strategic objectives for the nation and provide long-term funding certainty for Defence, including a $270 billion investment to 2029-30.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement gives recognition to the role of the Australian defence industry in building and sustaining Australia’s strategic and economic resilience. To achieve our national objectives, we will need greater investment in raising domestic defence industry capabilities including in the defence industry workforce.

“While there has been an increased emphasis on developing these capabilities in recent years, today’s announcements will require a significant ramping up of current efforts. Ai Group’s Defence Council is determined to continue to work constructively to ensure this ramp up is achieved in ways that meet national objectives and provide value for money for Australia’s taxpayers.

“A key part of delivering this value for money and return on our defence investments is to ensure that spending contributes to a competitive defence industry linked into global supply chains and to leverage new industry capabilities and workforce skills across a broader range of domestic and global opportunities. This includes procurement decisions that take into account the benefits delivered through local sustainment as well as technological and skills transfer.

“Ai Group welcomes the commitment to the long-term budget plans and 2020 Force Structure Plan. There are a range of new opportunities that have the potential to generate long-term sovereign industrial Australian capabilities. We look forward to more detail coming forward in the future for the individual projects, to allow defence industry the opportunity for more detailed decision-making on investment and workforce skilling.

“We welcome the emphasis on cyber security, including the investments in multinational information sharing systems and the upgrade of joint intelligence training facilities. These investments will improve the cyber security of defence industry members and should provide opportunities for the Australian defence industry. Related to these initiatives is the Government’s announcement this week of the investment of $1.35 billion in the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response package.

“Given the rapidly evolving state of cyber threats and attacks, including the Government’s recent announcement about malicious cyber activity against Australian organisations, it is essential that our nation is sufficiently resourced and supported through industry and government collaboration to ensure national security and to protect businesses and the community against global cyber crime and related threats.

“Ai Group and our members in the defence industry and its supply chains look forward to partnering with Defence to implement initiatives that arise from this announcement,” Mr Willox said.

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