In a recent address to the Canberra chapter
of the Australian Society for Defence
Engineering I presented my thoughts on the
future of naval shipbuilding in Australia.
Michael Ward, speaks
about his latest
contribution to the
I prefaced my remarks by making the observation
that indigenous defence industry has become a key
component of national defence capability. Defence
industry is no longer just an arms length provider
of commodity goods and services but rather one of
the fundamental elements of the national security
Having made that point it was worth noting that the
type of industry capabilities required to deliver against
modern warfighting requirements take considerable
time and investment to establish and develop, just
as they deteriorate quickly and require a consistent
throughput of work to maintain.
What this means is that a strategic view and
commitment is required of certain defence industry
capabilities and that such an approach is fundamental
Australia needs to have
sovereign capabilities in
submarines and major surface
combatants. This is particularly
the case in integrating and
sustaining combat systems
which are incredibly valuable
to the nation.
to any consideration of the future of Australia's
To be clear, defence industry should not succumb
to the rent seeking approaches apparent in some
other sectors, nor should it expect any free ride. After
all, defence industry exists to support the nation's
defence requirements and not the other way around.
However, the characteristics of a highly capable
indigenous defence industry, and the need to sustain
it in the national interest, should be a consideration
in any strategic decision about defence posture,
capability and expenditure.
It was in this context that I turned my remarks to
the example of Australian industry's role in future
Australia currently has extant capabilities for
the construction of major surface combatants such
as the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) and Future
Frigate as well as for submarine sustainment,
including capability upgrades, and the sustainment
of other classes of vessel. I should also include in
that list extant capabilities for the construction of
But it is necessary to distinguish those projects
which genuinely add to the industrial self-reliance
necessary for our national security from those that
don't. Australia needs to have sovereign capabilities
in submarines and major surface combatants.
This is particularly the case in integrating and
sustaining combat systems which are incredibly
valuable to the nation.