The future of Australia’s defence is right here, right now. As global strategic power converges on the Indo-Pacic, WA is making a crucial contribution to national defence and regional stability. Last week, the State brought together the business sector and both sides of politics in support of a national mission — the security of the country.
This article was originally published on The West Australian on the 6 November 2018.
Defence industry opportunities are arising out of the economic and strategic dynamism of the Indo-Pacic region. While India’s 1.3 billion people are lifting the world’s largest democracy to great power status, Indonesia is on track to become the world’s fourth largest economy. Perth is Australia’s Indian Ocean capital, and WA looks north-west to India and north to Indonesia, ASEAN and our traditional partners in north-east Asia. While the US remains the world’s predominant Pacic power, the strategic ambition of many new regional players is also expanding. With military budgets rising and defence and security concerns coming to the fore, Australia must be prepared diplomatically, strategically and industrially.
The inaugural WA Indo-Pacific Defence Conference was convened by the Perth USAsia Centre for the WA Government. More than 500 government, industry and international partners gathered in Perth to untangle the forces reshaping global security, and how the State’s defence industry can best contribute to national and regional security.
What emerged was a vision to further contribute to defence and diversify the local economy. The State Government also released its defence and defence industries strategic plan, which aims to double the size of WA’s defence industry by 2030. The strategic plan provides a path to further leverage the State’s defence assets, including HMAS Stirling and the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.
The Government telegraphs its support for key players to establish, and in many cases expand, their defence industry presence here. Opportunities exist in asset manufacturing and maintenance, defence science and technology research, applied mining, oil and gas technologies, and the cyber and space domains. The conference exhibited that WA is a globally recognised hub for defence.
Global shipbuilder Luerssen and WA’s Civmec will build locally 10 Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Australian Navy. Another local company Austal manufactures world-class marine vessels throughout the Indo-Pacic. The potential for industry innovations is right here. The conference was a clarion call to defence industries in Australia and international partners that WA is ideally positioned.
The close collaboration between State and Federal governments is a testament to WA’s defence capabilities. Capturing further opportunities will support WA’s economy, contribute to national security and help bolster regional stability.