Australian communities stand to benefit from the Federal Government's spending on defence, says Christopher Pyne.
Australian communities stand to benefit from the Federal Government's spending on defence, says Christopher Pyne. ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

OPINION: Defence spending is important to communities

WITH a boom in our defence industry starting to take shape as a result of the Turnbull Government's record $195-billion investment, Queensland, with its large industrial base, growing research and development hubs and expanding population, is in an enviable position to take advantage of it.

We are investing $195 billion to equip our defence forces to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. As we expand our capability we, as a government, are determined maximise local content and construction.

The Turnbull Government's commitment to a local defence industry has given Queensland businesses the certainty they need to continue to hire more staff, invest in the skills, innovation and build infrastructure.

In the last financial year, $3.8billion was invested through defence into Queensland, representing a significant boost for industry, the economy and the broader community.

Queensland is already successfully leveraging an impressive hub of expertise and supports billions of dollars worth of military vehicle, aerospace, maritime and other Defence contracts.

The state's small to medium enterprises are providing cutting-edge technologies and innovations to enhance our defence capability and realise significant export opportunities.

A national supply chain will be needed for all of the Government's major projects, particularly for the $89-billion naval shipbuilding program including the Future Submarines, Future Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

The Federal Government has announced more than $500 million worth of upgrades to the nation's fleet of Wedgetail aircraft, with the majority of work to take place in Brisbane, creating almost 120 jobs.
The government has announced $500 million worth of upgrades to the fleet of Wedgetail aircraft, with the majority of work to take place in Brisbane. CPL Melina Young

Queensland companies are already taking the first steps to becoming a part of the supply chains for these important projects with 236 attending industry days in Queensland over the last few months.

I have announced over $500million for upgrades to our Wedgetail aircraft, of which a majority of work will take place in Brisbane, creating almost 120 jobs.

As part of Defence's $3.5-billion Land 121 Phase 3B project, Rheinmetall has engaged Queensland companies Holmwood Highgate and Penske to help deliver the new generation of medium and heavy trucks to the ADF, while vast majority of trailers are being manufactured by the home-grown Brisbane company Haulmark Trailers.

As an even greater boost to Australia's defence industry, earlier this year Rheinmetall unveiled its plan to establish a military vehicle centre of excellence, with Victoria and Queensland shortlisted as the likely location.

It is estimated the new centre of excellence will generate hundreds of long-term jobs, creating a program of continuous design, build and support not just targeted at Australian military vehicles, but the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Queensland's defence industry is set to receive a further boost with the recently-announced sustainment contract for Australia's fleet of C-17A Globemasters to Boeing Defence Australia, which will lead to new jobs in the defence industry.

As we upgrade our air force we have seen new opportunities for maintenance, sustainment and repair. The businesses around RAAF Amberley are grasping this opportunity with both hands. Businesses like TAE aerospace are creating an industrial hub which will create high value jobs for decades to come.

Defence spending is not just directed at south-east Queensland. This government is expanding Queensland's vital Defence operational training capabilities at both Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field training areas.

The Government is delivering on the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative, which will result in strong and enduring economic opportunities for local communities and businesses in both regions.

It will drive much-needed investment in central and north Queensland with up to $2billion to be injected into the region over 10 years.

Cairns will see the significant flow-on effects for local businesses from the Government's planned investment. We'll see $400million for the critical support and sustainment for the Pacific Patrol Boats based in Cairns.

The Turnbull Government is showing our confidence in Queensland's productive defence industry and its ability to support Australia's future naval capabilities.

I am a firm believer in the innovative potential of Australia's defence industry. This is why the Government has set up the Centre for Defence Industry Capability backed by an investment of $1.6billion. The centre is the focal point for collaboration between industry and academia and the $640-million Defence Innovation Hub capitalises on unprecedented innovative opportunities.

As a result of this investment, we will see great ideas birthed in our universities become great defence industry products which generate jobs and grow the Queensland economy.

The Queensland defence industry is vital to delivering on the Turnbull Government's $195-billion renewal and investment in Defence capability over the next decade. The future is bright for Queensland and defence industry in not only local contracts but global exports.

What we are already seeing is local jobs and economic growth as a result of Turnbull Government decisions in this area, with much more still to come.