WA launches defence industry strategy

Aerial photograph of HMAS Stirling and Fleet Base West at Garden Island, Western Australia. Source: navy.gov.au

The Western Australian government has launched a strategic plan to capitalise on the state’s manufacturing and technological capabilities and grow the local defence industry.

Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan launched the Western Australia Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan during his address at the inaugural Indo-Pacific Defence Conference on Tuesday.

The premier said that the strategic plan made the development of the defence sector a priority, and would help the state’s economy diversify and create more jobs.

“The defence sector is worth billions of dollars to the economy and Western Australia has been crying out for a strategic plan to further unlock its full potential,” McGowan said.

“Western Australia has incredibly strong manufacturing capabilities, with many local companies at the forefront of world-leading technology to service the defence sector.

“For the first time, we now have a strategy to build on these already-established strengths and champion Western Australia to secure a greater share of defence contracts for our State and create new opportunities for innovation.”

The plan outlines six key strategies:

  • Supporting a strong enduring defence presence – Develop and promote the case for WA to be the principal location for maintenance and sustainment for the future submarines and frigates. These contracts are expected to exceed $50 billion through the life of the new fleets;
  • Growing the State’s defence industry capability and contribution – Facilitate business opportunities and collaboration overseas to maximise domestic and international defence opportunities;
  • Developing strategic infrastructure – Establish an across-government task force to undertake strategic planning for the expansion and management of Henderson and the Australian Marine Complex;
  • Building research and innovation partnerships – Work with the Australian Government to establish a Defence Science Centre to enhance research collaborations and engagements between universities, industry and defence;
  • Advancing education, training and skilling – Establish a Defence Office in the South Metropolitan TAFE to lead a co-ordinated and collaborative approach to the development of a WA defence workforce; and
  • Supporting veterans and families – Develop, in consultation with defence and local governments, a Veterans and Defence Families Strategy to better support veterans and their families.

The Defence Science Centre will be a collaboration between the state Government, the Defence Science and Technology Group and Western Australian universities. The centre will maximise Western Australia’s defence-related research opportunities and will be a primary source of facilitating research and development connections for the defence sector.

“As a government, we will support the vision and work to deliver the key strategies and actions. I am determined to seize this opportunity to promote the defence sector in this State, to grow our economy and create jobs,” McGowan said.

“Further to that, the strategy will provide nation-leading support for our Defence Force, the men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation, to assist with employment pathways and support for injured veterans.”