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Insights from the Queensland Defence Industries’ and Aerospace Envoy

The necessary delay to align LAND 400 with the with the new Defence Industry Policy 2016 has resulted in further clarity in AIC requirements as an integral piece of the Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) phase of the project. BAE Systems Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia have been down selected for the RMA and contracts were signed in September. We can expect an intense period of activity in industry engagement during November to set the scene for further detailed engagement throughout the first half of 2017 as they build more detailed system build and sustainment plans. Defence Industries Queensland will be working with Defence and the prime contractors to ensure relevant Queensland industry throughout the state have the opportunity to present their capabilities. This builds on the work of the last two years in building the Heavy Vehicle Precinct and projecting our capabilities to both prime contractors and Defence. Given this has been underway for over two years, we will be seeking a refresh of our industry database to ensure we are providing primes with the latest capability and performance data. We will also be casting our net a little wider as we align with each of the prime contractors respective needs to address some of the latent capabilities across the breadth of Queensland industry.

We will also see an increasing rate of industry engagement for SEA 5000, the new frigate program throughout November, with further activity early in 2017. Down select will not be until Q2 2018, so preliminary industry engagement can expect to peak by mid-2017, with more detailed engagement commencing later in 2018. Industry briefings for SEA 1000, the submarine project, will start soon, and we can expect some activity in that regard during 2016. It is important to note that DCNS have only signed the design concept study phase of the contract. This will be an iterative process with Defence as they seek to optimise the design and decide on a baseline that can progress to more detailed design phases. We will remain engaged with the project and DCNS advocating the current submarine and Naval capabilities in Queensland, as well as latent capabilities in industry across Queensland. To that end, we have undertaken a pilot program with the Defence Materials Technology Centre and several companies in Mackay to demonstrate regional capabilities in welding armour to defence standards which has applicability to both marine and land systems. The results, due later this year, will inform both defence and DCNS with regard to latent capability. We will then roll the program out around the state to help identify capability and capacity to undertake work.

This increasing rate of activity was foreshadowed during industry briefings around the state post the new White Paper and Defence Industry Policy. A reminder that the rate of project approvals for both issuing of tenders and contract awards will reach an unprecedented level over the next 18 months to two years. Concurrently, the First Principles Review and implementation plan is well underway, and implementation reform in the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment (CASG) and Defence Industry Policy Division is underway. An enormous amount of work is underway to create a sound foundation for the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) and to ensure that launch of the Defence Innovation Hub and the associated process is successful from the outset. The announcement of the much respected Co-Chair of the CDIC, Paul Johnson, has been welcomed by industry and sets the scene for announcement of the CDIC Advisory Board shortly. We expect to see the launch of the CDIC before year end and a rapid ramp-up to follow.

DIQLD has also been working closely with Defence in support of the roll out of the defence elements of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) with the Singaporean government. Whilst the defence elements of this program are substantial and of strategic importance to Defence, the Singaporean Armed Forces and regional Queensland, there is an ever greater opportunity across the entirety of the CSP for Queensland. Following signature of the Defence Memorandum of Understanding last week, the defence elements will be briefed by Defence soon and opportunity will follow which are expected to be through the normal Defence facilities procurement process, so watch for our notices from Defence to that effect. Industry colleagues in Rockhampton and Townsville will be particularly interested, although other long-term logistics opportunities should arise as the program ramps-up over several years.

In closing, there is much to be done and much to be prepared for. We will be working very closely with Defence Industry Policy Division and the CDIC to ensure industry is well-engaged both in terms of innovation and execution. Industry can expect some implementation issues to arise, but we should bear in mind that this is the greatest change and the most rapid rate of change for defence industry in over 60 years. I suggest we all have a mindset of helping defence succeed in their endeavours, think carefully about how we can help the process improve over the next few years and be constructive in our criticism.

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