Launch of Sydney Aerospace and Defence Interest Group (SADIG)

Launch of Sydney Aerospace and Defence Interest Group (SADIG)

The Novotel Hotel, Sydney Olympic Park

30 April 2012


Thank you Bob [Germaine]. Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner. Former VCDF and Chief of Army, Ken Gillespie. Ladies and Gentlemen.

It’s a pleasure to launch the Sydney Aerospace and Defence Interest Group.

I know this will be a strong voice for Sydney – and an important part of the work being led by Ken Gillespie to promote the NSW defence industry.

It’s already up and running– and has three working groups:

1. A supply chain working group;

2. An innovation working group; and

3. A skills working group.

These are three critical areas.

Let me take you through them one at a time.

First – Supply Chains

The scale of our defence supply chain is not well known.

Defence relies on thousands of companies here and overseas.

In New South Wales alone there are about 850 companies that support Defence.

Let me give you one example.

Everyone knows about the Bushmaster.

It is built in Bendigo in Victoria – and it’s saving lives in Afghanistan.

It creates a lot of jobs in Bendigo. But it also supports a lot of jobs across its entire supply chain.

More than 100 Australian companies provide parts or services for the mighty Bushmaster right across the country.

18 of them are in New South Wales.

And most of them are here in Western Sydney:

  • Roxtec Australia in Greenacre supply electrical connectors;
  • Century Yuasa in Villawood supply batteries;
  • Stratos Seating in Wetherill Park supply seats and covers;
  • Matson Auto Industries in St Marys supply battery terminals; and
  • Shock and Vibration Technologies in Milperra supply shock mounts.

That is just a few of them.

It gives you an idea of the size of the Defence supply chain.

It’s the same story with the Air Warfare Destroyers being built right now.

When they are built they will be among the most capable warships in the world.

Almost half of the steel blocks for the ships are being built in Newcastle by Forgacs.

The steel they are using comes from BlueScope in the Illawarra.

Now think of the scale of the supply chain needed for a project like the future submarine.

It will be the biggest and most complex project Defence has ever embarked upon – perhaps the biggest and most complex project Australia has ever embarked upon.

The opportunities that come out of that for New South Wales are enormous.


The second working group that has been set up is focused on innovation.

And rightly so.

Our job is to give our troops the equipment they need to do their job.

Innovation is an important part of this.

Again – the Bushmaster is a great example.

The steel that makes up the ‘V’ shaped hull is made by a company in Wollongong called Bisalloy Steels.

This is steel that wasn’t designed for trucks – it was originally designed in the 1980s for our Adelaide Class Frigates.

It was then adapted for our Collins Class submarines – and then again for the Bushmaster.

It is no ordinary steel. I saw what it can do when I was in Afghanistan last year.

I crawled under a Bushmaster that had been hit by an IED and saw large these salad bowl shaped bulges in the steel where the bomb had exploded.

The steel had buckled – but it hadn’t ripped apart. The steel took the force of the blast – and all eight men inside walked out.

This is what innovation in the defence industry means – it saves lives. It saves Australian lives.

To encourage this sort of innovation we now have a $45 million Priority Industry Capabilities Innovation Program – and today I can announce the first nine successful projects to be supported through this program.

In total – more than $12 million of investment in defence industry innovation.

This includes:

  • More than $469,000 for a program with Cirrus Real Time Processing Systems in Surry Hills to commercialise a software program that better illuminates targets from background clutter in radar pictures; and
  • More than $700,000 to develop advanced underwater sonar and acoustic systems with Sonartech Atlas in Macquarie Park.
  • And just down the highway – more than $2.5 million for CEA Technologies in Canberra. This is one of the most innovative companies in Australia. They’ve developed a cutting-edge new phased array radar for our Anzac Class frigates. This funding will help them adapt this technology to be used on land to do things like – Ground Based Air Defence, Weapon Location, Air Traffic Control and Air Surveillance.

The full details of these and other projects funded through the Priority Industry Capabilities Innovation Program will be posted online.


The third working group I mentioned is focused on skills.

This is critical.

I mentioned the future submarine project a few moments ago.

It will involve hundreds of companies, thousands of workers and a lot of skills that currently do not exist in sufficient numbers in Australia.

Some of the skills are available overseas, others will have to be grown here.

In December last year I announced that I had asked the head of the Defence Materiel Organisation to develop a Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan – and I will be announcing more details about that shortly.

The Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry Program – SADI – is one of the things we are already doing to help build the skills of the Australian defence industry.

Last year I commissioned a review of the SADI program and consulted with Australian industry.

Today I can announce a package of reforms to SADI to cut red tape and make more training places available every six months.

I can also announce the opening of the latest round of SADI funding – $8 million in total – to be distributed to companies. Applications are open for four weeks and all successful companies will be notified before the end of the financial year.

I encourage all Australian based Defence companies to apply.

Again, details of this will be put up on the net this morning.

Congratulations to Bob and the team on setting up this new group.

Defence relies on the support of the Australian defence industry – and it is clear you are focused on making sure that Australian industry is ready to support Defence.

Congratulations – and I am looking forward to working with you on this important task.

Thank you.