Collaboration the Key to Unlocking Defence Capabilities

Posted on: Sunday, 11 March 2018 at 6:55:19 PM

Article from the AICC(WA) ECU Annual Executive Event 2018 featuring the Hon Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, and Member for Warnbro, speaking on "Growing and Promoting WA’s Defence Industry.”  This event was held at the Aloft Hotel, Rivervale on Wednesday 7 March 2018.

At both Federal and State level, the drive to develop Australia’s defence capabilities, and to develop enterprise that supports the defence industry supply chain is currently a core policy focus. 

Israel’s expertise in the defence industry was outlined by Mr John Cluer, AICC(WA) Chief Executive, as he introduced the presentation on WA defence capability, also linked to the forthcoming AICC(WA) Defence Delegation to be led by Senator Linda Reynolds CSC. 

From L to R - Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Senator for Western Australia, Professor Steve Chapman, Vice-Chancellor, Edith Cowan University, The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia, Dr Andrew Dowse AO, Air Vice-Marshal (retd), Director, Defence Research and Engagement, Edith Cowan University and Mr Steve Ibbotson, Director, 3Pillars Asia Pacific

In February 2018 the Turnbull Government released its Defence Export Strategy which includes a $3.8 billion loan facility and a new Defence Export office.   The report shows how being part of global supply chain with value added production can drive Australian exports.  The obvious opportunity to partner with Israeli companies to link technology licensing with manufacturing enticing.

At present, Australia’s defence industry exports are running at $2.5bn a year and Australia is No 20 in the ranks of defence exporters.  If the Turnbull Government reaches its ambitious goal then Australia would catapult into the world's top 10 defence exporters within a decade, as well as generating new employment and investment.

From L to R - Professor Stephen Smith, Board of Directors, Perth USAsia Centre, UWA, Mr Steve Ibbotson, Director, 3Pillars Asia Pacific, Dr Andrew Dowse AO, Air Vice-Marshal (retd), Director, Defence Research and Engagement, Edith Cowan University, The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia, Professor Steve Chapman, Vice-Chancellor, Edith Cowan University, Mr Peter Brampton, General Manager, The Westin Perth and Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Senator for Western Australia

 

Israel’s defence industry, driven by necessity, is a mainstay of its economy.  Last year military exports from Israel were valued at $6.5 billion, making Israel one of the world’s leading exporters of defence goods and services.  The industry has evolved from a need for self-sufficiency, and now focuses on more on sophisticated advancements relating to surveillance, hi-tech, robotics, and protective cyber capabilities.  The country has a unique culture that allows military service to evolve into economic enterprise under private structures, and brings together experience and innovation to deliver futuristic technologies. 

For example, Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones.  The country is a leader in UGV’s otherwise known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles that undertake border patrol activity.  The Arrow anti-missile program and Iron Dome technology has intercepted and destroyed thousands of missiles fired at Israel before they have had the chance to hit the ground.    Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship called Protector which is being used by Israel to protect its strategic ports and patrol the country’s long Mediterranean coastline. 

In 1988, Israel launched its first spy satellite into space, gaining membership in the exclusive club of just eight nations with independent satellite-launching capabilities.  Today its satellites have radar that sees through everything from cloud and fog to camouflage nets with exceptional resolution.  While other countries have invested in defence technology, none have created a multi-tier architecture like Israel.

Professor Steve Chapman, Vice-Chancellor, Edith Cowan University

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman reiterated that Western Australia has a considerable role to play in defence.  He introduced Dr Andrew Dowse, recently appointed to the newly created position of Director, Defence Research and Engagement for the University.  The position was established to develop stronger relationships between ECU and defence industries locally, nationally and internationally, and as a former senior Australian Defence Force officer, Dr Dowse is well positioned to expand ECU’s world-leading capabilities to deliver research and innovation that build sovereign capability. 

The appointment follows the launch of the Federal Government’s $720 million Next Generation Technologies Fund in March 2017, designed to foster innovation and closer links between defence, industry and universities.  It also aligns with the launch of Defence West, a new Western Australian Government body established in May 2017 to secure more defence contracts in WA.

Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Senator for Western Australia

The drive for new WA defence industry activity was further reinforced by Senator Reynolds who spoke fondly of her previous visits to Israel, providing context to the strategic dialogue on defence and broader industry engagement.  She noted that “distance no longer matters” and spoke of the strong and enduring bonds between Israel and Australia, underpinned by a similar approach to democracy, economic and social issues, shared values and a positive outlook.  She invited participation to the delegation, saying “This delegation is not just about what we can learn from Israel, but how we can also transfer Australian IP, and showcase our industry capability for export.”

The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia

Minister Papalia presented on the WA Government's renewed focus on defence industry and the initiatives being undertaken to ensure the State makes a strong contribution to the Commonwealth's upcoming defence programs. Minister Papalia discussed WA as a strategic location for defence exports to emerging economics in the Indian Ocean region.

Mr Papalia shared some of his Naval experiences, including a trip to Israel in the post Gulf War era where he saw first-hand the immediate need that Israel had for existential security.  

Complementing the AICC(WA) on its Defence Delegation initiative, the Minister also expressed admiration for the Federal Defence Export Strategy and assured Senator Reynolds of collaboration from State to Federal level.  He had confidence in WA’s flexibility to meet both a sovereign defence capability in conjunction with growth in defence export capability, part of his Government’s electoral platform to diversify the economy. 

Two strategic advantages for WA were noted by the Minister;

  • Knowledge and expertise from the commodities and resources sector is transferrable to the growth of defence industries. Examples include the security and management of offshore infrastructure, coastal protection, and autonomous vehicle activity, all deployed with high levels of sophistication within our primary industries.
  • The geographic position and proximity to major trading markets. Mr Papalia noted that we are in an Asian time zone within reach of almost one third of the global population. 

The WA Government has appointed a defence advocate to be “eyes and ears” and represent WA defence opportunities to Canberra.  Similarly it has deployed a strategic advisor to seek new business, specifically targeted at Small to Medium Enterprise.

With the Australian Defence Council meeting in Western Australia, and relationships being developed, Mr Papalia concluded that the role of the Government was to be an enabler, not a participant.  He reiterated the logistical and political advantages of delivering Federal initiatives to Western Australia.

Mr Steve Ibbotson, Director, 3Pillars Asia Pacific and The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia

Through engagement with the audience, Mr Papalia addressed issues including the level of defence representation in WA, Radio Astronomy and satellite activity, the impact of climate change on security, and the application of Federal Funding.

Mr Papalia further discussed defence collaboration, and noted academic collaboration on the major SKA project.  He singled out Professor Craig Valli as an example of “the best in his field in Australia”, citing how cyber capability and other industry capability can sometimes escape recognition due to WA’s isolation from the east.  He further elaborated to note that when training students in skill sets such as cyber, it was also important to deliver the career paths and high level jobs within Western Australia to retain talent.  “Industry growth requires skill capacity, and we are directing a strategic focus in this area.  We need a workforce that can live locally, and service both local and global markets.”

The ability to evolve physical infrastructure including ports and airports, ship building capacity, and marine channel infrastructure is also on the strategic agenda, including the Defence West strategy.  Noting this infrastructure also relates to tourism, Mr Papalia shared the example of Exmouth as an opportunity for economic evolvement contingent on Federally funded infrastructure appropriations.  

 

 From L to R - Mr Steve Ibbotson, Director, 3Pillars Asia Pacific, The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia and Dr Andrew Dowse AO, Air Vice-Marshal (retd), Director, Defence Research and Engagement, Edith Cowan University

 

Mr Steve Ibbotson, Director, 3 Pillars Asia Pacific proposed a vote of thanks, drawing on the transition of WA skills and capabilities from the resources sector into the defence sector.  “There are many lessons we can learn from how Israel has capitalised on investment in their defence industry, and more importantly how they have become an international exporter of their defence capabilities. That’s why we are supporting the defence delegation visit there in May.” 

Reflecting on Mr Papalia’s comments, Mr Ibbotson also noted “We believe we can all harness the creativity and innovation that has come from our remoteness and harshness and convert knowledge and technologies traditionally seen in mining, agriculture, forestry, fisheries into valuable Defence applications.  The companies that are out there just need a little hand in making that transition. I was encouraged by the Ministers support of collaborative activity, and it is wonderful to have the support of both Federal and State Government.”  Although we continue to be threatened by our remoteness we are starting to see a better appreciation of the value stream and the Minister’s presentation has strongly reinforced the tremendous opportunity that sits before us.”  

 

 

 

From Top Left clockwise: Ms Kerryl Bradshaw, Principal and APAC Regional Director, Advisian, The Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Tourism; Racing and Gaming; Small Business; Defence Issues; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests. Member for Warnbro, Government of Western Australia, Professor Steve Chapman, Vice-Chancellor, Edith Cowan University, Professor Lyn Beazley AO, FTSE CIE, Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Professor of Science, Murdoch University and Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, Senator for Western Australia

    

 

 

 

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