Former ALP leader, defence minister and Ambassador to the United States Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley has been appointed to the board of Lockheed Martin Australia which is developing the F35 joint strike fighter for the Australian Air Force.
At a price tag of $AUD18 billion, the F35 deal is to date Australia’s most expensive defence acquisition – only the recently-announced $AUD50 billion contract for submarines with French company DCNS is set to be bigger.
Mr Beazley, a former defence minister in the Hawke Labor government of the 1980s, was famous for his love of military hardware, earning him the nickname “Bomber Beazley”.
Mr Beazley said that after a period of about 20 years in which there has been a preference for government to seek “off the shelf” answers to equipment purchases, he was joining the world’s biggest military contractor at a time when the current Coalition government was pursuing a more robust industry policy via the defence sector.
“It is the only part of government industry policy where the government is an active and expensively possessed participant,” he told The Australian Financial Review.
“Throughout my career I have developed a deep respect for Lockheed Martin, both as an industry leader and a technology innovator,” he said. “I look forward to contributing to Lockheed Martin Australia’s ongoing success as a key technology partner to Australia’s Defence Force and broader industry sector.”
Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Raydon Gates said: “Kim Beazley is one of Australia’s most distinguished statesmen, respected by all sides of politics, policymakers and industry alike, and we are thrilled he has accepted this appointment.”
“As a passionate advocate for Australian industry and a former Defence Minister, Kim brings invaluable experience to the Lockheed Martin Australia Board.”
With a presence in Australia for 55 years, Lockheed Martin Australia deliver systems and advanced engineering capabilities for customers in the Aeronautics, Maritime, Surveillance and Defence domains.