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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12007

Defence Procurement

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (15:04): My question is to the Minister for Defence Materiel and Science. Will the minister advise the House how Australian industry, in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, is seeking innovative ways to provide the very best equipment for our Defence personnel? What is being done to promote an Australian defence industry that is internationally competitive?

Mr BROUGH (FisherMinister for Defence Materiel and Science and Special Minister of State) (15:05): I thank the member for Solomon not only for the question but as she is a true champion of the 1 Brigade and the men and women of Robertson Barracks up there in Darwin. The member for Solomon, like everyone in this House, recognises that, when we send our Defence Force personnel into harm's way, we must do everything we possibly can to give them the best equipment and the best protection possible in order to carry out their duties.

I go back to 2002 and the Howard government, when the decision was then taken to be part of the Joint Strike Fighter program, the US led initiative to develop the fifth generation of fighters. At the time, I think there was a rather sceptical business sector saying, 'How are Australian companies going to benefit from this really large investment?' I can report to the House that, today, there have been nearly $500 million worth of contracts of high-innovated companies in Australia adding to that incredible program. I will just mention one of them. It is the Marand company, based in Victoria. It has put together a particular product which brings together 12,000 complex parts in an innovative piece of materiel, which is an engine trailer for the F35. I should tell the House that this is not only an essential piece of equipment; it is the only one of its type in the world. This is Australian technology—it was designed by Australians, manufactured by Australians and assembled here.

Only last Monday—and this will really be of interest to the member for Solomon—I was over at ADFA with Major General Gus McLachlan, who is Army's Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning. The Army is reaching out to industry and saying, 'Bring your innovative ideas in to us.' I met with one of those companies over there—Zero Latency—which would be a bit of a surprise to members. This is a company that is in the gaming sphere, a massive industry around the world. Army recognised that we could use their technology, which is based on virtual reality gaming in a free-roaming, immersive surround. In doing so, Army is reaching out to Australian industry and then taking it to the world.

There are many other examples. One is Marathon Targets, based out at Marrickville. They have developed the world's first robotic target system for live fire training. They are now supplying not only the Australian Special Air Service Regiment but also the US Army. And there are many other examples. The defence industries can absolutely rely on the fact that this government, led by a Prime Minister who understands innovation, will take the best and the brightest of Australia to the rest of the world, creating jobs and opportunities for Australian companies. (Time expired)