The Federal Government on 29 January announced an ambitious new Defence Export Strategy, aimed at making Australia one of the top ten global defence exporters within the next decade.

The plan is designed to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses. According to the Government, a strong, exporting defence industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment, support high-end manufacturing jobs, and support the capability of the Australian Defence Force.

The Defence Export Strategy includes several new initiatives and investments, including:

  • A new Australian Defence Export Office, which will work hand-in-hand with Austrade and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to co-ordinate whole-of-government efforts, providing a focal point for defence exports.
  • A new Australian Defence Export Advocate, who will provide high-level advocacy for defence exports and work across industry and government to ensure all efforts are co-ordinated.
  • A new $3.8bn Defence Export Facility administered by Efic, Australia’s export credit agency. This will help Australian companies get the finance they need to underpin the sales of their equipment overseas. According to the Government, it will provide confidence to the Australian defence industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities knowing that Efic’s support is available when there is a market gap for defence finance.
  • Funds of $20m per year to implement the Defence Export Strategy and support defence industry exports, including $6.35million to develop and implement strategic multi-year export campaigns, an additional $3.2m to enhance and expand the Global Supply Chain program, and an additional $4.1m for grants to help build the capability of small and medium enterprises to compete internationally.

The new plan was announced at Thales Australia’s facility in Rydalmere, NSW. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “What this is doing is, for the first time, establishing a solid, continuing Australian defence industry in Australia. Not since wartime have we seen such a level of investment in our defence forces and in particular, in our Navy. Now, what we want to do is make sure that we export more defence technology and more of the product of our defence industry.”

“One of the features of course, of defence industry is peaks and troughs, depending on the Australian Government’s demand for equipment and platforms,” added Christopher Pyne, Minister For Defence Industry. “By investing in defence exports, we are giving defence industry the opportunity to see through those peaks and troughs and establish very long-term investments in their equipment, in their skills, in their workforce, in their management, in their research and development.

Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox welcomed the announcement, saying: “Defence exports are a critical underpinning in the development, growth and prosperity of our defence industry, which contributes significantly to national security and economic outcomes. The development and release of a Defence Export Strategy is recognition that the Australian defence industry depends on both domestic acquisition and development of overseas markets.”