SA: The Defence State

Under the Naval Shipbuilding Plan, the South Australia workforce will include 5200 shipbuilding jobs from the mid-2020s. This is an increase of 3500 new jobs from the peak of the Air Warfare Destroyer with a further 4500 jobs in the national supply chain.

That’s the message from Defence SA CEO, Richard Price, who recently gave a presentation to about 50 South Australian business people.

In his presentation, The Impact of Australian Defence Industry Policy on Australia and Particularly South Australia, Mr Price said the growth in the SA Defence industry would represent a 3.4% increase in SA’s economic activity each year.

‘South Australia was the first state to have a dedicated agency because of the importance of defence industry’ Mr Price said. ‘This has played a role for us in securing a number of high profile defence projects, most notably the Future Submarine program.

‘We also have a very high profile Advisory Board – led by Air Chief Marshall Sir Angus Houston – that plays a key role in high level advocacy for the state and for exports.’

Mr Price said there were far more opportunities in defence than just building ships, including cyber and systems, space, science and research and supporting the defence presence at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

He told the audience that seven of the world’s top defence primes had a presence in SA – Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Australia. There are also more than 250 SMEs active in defence - 75 relevant to shipbuilding.

The defence industry was looking for skills and expertise across the full spectrum of naval shipbuilding activities, from systems engineering and integration to hull fabrication.

My Price said the challenges for the local defence industry included building sovereign capability within Australia, which would involve the technology transfer of ‘know why’ and not just ‘know how’.

International suppliers could help develop the local industry, including using local technology and setting up subcontracting or joint venture arrangements with local companies.

Mr Price said with the Naval Shipbuilding College opening in Adelaide this year, there would be a national approach to education and training with international expertise in modern shipbuilding techniques that would ensure Australian skills match industry needs.

ICN offices across the country have close ties with defence and work packages are regularly advertised on ICN Gateway. To find out more go to ICN Gateway and type ‘defence’ in the keyword search bar.