Hunter Defence is a collaborative task force focused on demonstrating the capability of established Hunter defence industry suppliers to government and primes, as well as upskilling local SMEs to become ‘Defence ready’

The Hunter already has strong expertise in advanced high-value, high-skills manufacturing and R&D,so there is great potential for locally based firms to diversify into defence or, for those who already established in the industry, to increase their market share.

Hunter Defence represents a diverse group of industry stakeholders in the region, including manufacturing and supply firms, industry networks, specialist consultants, advisors and government.

Hunter Defence operations and activity is supported and facilitated through the Hunter Defence Task Force, chaired by Tim Owen, a former Air Force Commander and 32-year services veteran with significant expertise in the Australian Defence Force contracting process and experience working with defence primes.


Hunter Defence provides a strong and unified voice promoting Hunter Defence capability to the NSW and Australian Government. We aim to increase Hunter participation in the defence industry by harnessing the expertise, insight and connections within the group to identify opportunities for the region.

Winning Defence contracts is a competitive business that requires not only capability, but deep industry insight and high visibility with primes, defence stakeholders and government at all levels. Hunter Defence will seek to align local industry capabilities and capacities with coming opportunities and demonstrate the region’s supply chain capability.

We will also encourage more SMEs to acquire advanced defence capability by facilitating education, training and advice.

See an outline of our 2023-2025 Strategic Plan.

MEET the Hunter Defence Taskforce

Tim Owen AM is a 32-year services veteran and former Deputy Commander of the Australian forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a highly regarded defence industry consultant with significant expertise in the Australian Defence Force contracting process and experience working with defence primes.

Bede Boyle is Senior Advisor, Defence and Industry with McLean Management Consultants Pty Ltd and a champion of strategic collaboration to drive Defence industry growth.

Dusko Bajic is Manager – NSW Defence Industries and Regional Manager Northern NSW for the Industry Capability Network (ICN). He is an experienced management professional with significant experience in Defence, manufacturing and engineering.

Alan Rankins joined the Royal Australian Navy at 15 and served for 21 years, working his way up to the role of Weapons Electronics Engineer. He has been involved as a project and program manager in major Defence projects including senior positions in the ANZAC, New Submarine, Minehunter, Hydrographic, FFG Upgrade and LHD programs.

Sheena is an accomplished communications and media specialist with a passion for advocacy. Prior to Business Hunter, Sheena worked in her own business, providing communications leadership for clients working across a range of industries including critical minerals, emerging renewable energy technologies and start-ups.

Prior to starting her own business Sheena led the University of Newcastle media team for several years, working at the intersection of research, education and communications. Her work has a global footprint, appearing in outlets including the BBC, ABC, CNN, TIME Magazine, Reuters, The Australian, SMH and AFR.

Keenly aware of the power of content to achieve change, Sheena is looking forward to helping progress the goals of Hunter businesses.

Boris Novak is an Industry Advisor at HunterNet. He has a Defence background, having worked in the Air Force in tactical communications-electronics and systems engineering, and was founder and Chair of Dexata (formerly C-E Solutions), a supplier of breakthrough analytic capabilities within the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) domain.

Marcus Polites joins Newcastle Airport with extensive specialist experience as Retail Leasing Director in South Australia and Queensland’s premier retail precincts, shopping centres and commercial development projects. 

Marcus is the Business Development and Leasing Manager at Newcastle Airport and is responsible for fostering mutually beneficial relationships with business leaders across the Defence, Innovation and Aerospace sectors as part of the growth of Astra Aerolab.

Kevin Chenney is a Senior Consultant with Goal Professional Services, specialising in Export Control/ITAR/EAR and responsible for compliance audits, reviews and training. Kevin is also active in providing Defence-readiness solutions to clients and business development for the organisation.

Mike McLean FAICD, AF-CMC, FAGSL, FAOQ. Represents AiGroup members in the Hunter, Nationally and ISO internationally on Strategy, Quality Management and Improvement disciplines.

He has advised RAAF, RAN and DoD CASG System Program Offices for Air Lift, Air Domain, Battlefield Communications, Maritime Systems Division, and Information Assurance and their Tiered National and International Suppliers.

He delivers the Defence Ready Seminars on Defence ISO Basics and Advanced MS Standards for ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 45001, AS9100D, AS13100, IATF 16949 and Enterprise Risk and Integrated Management Systems.

Manufacturing Industry Supply Chain research and academic publications on automotive, advanced manufacturing and materials and supply chains.

Regular Defence public submissions for the Rizzo RAN Ship Maintenance Review, 2015 Defence Whitepaper, 2018 Port of Newcastle NSW MLC Inquiry, 2023 Defence Strategic Review, and 2024 Senate Inquiry into the development of sovereign tech industry with the University of NSW. Author and lecturer at Macquarie Business School.

Jacqui Daley is the Managing Director of The Measured Marketer, a strategic marketing consultancy working with STEM based businesses across the Hunter Region. A strong advocate for local manufacturing, Jacqui is on the board of the Hunter Manufacturing Awards, and since 2020, has overseen marketing of the Hunter Defence Taskforce and the Defence Ready Seminar Series.

Trevor John has worked in the Hunter for over 30 years and is RDA Hunter’s Executive Officer and Director of Regional Development. With funding from Australia’s Department of Defence since 2009, and the support of leaders in education and industry, RDA Hunter’s ME Program is increasing the size and capacity of the STEM skilled workforce in the Hunter to meet the needs of the region’s Defence Industry. In partnership with Defence NSW, RDA Hunter is helping deliver the State’s defence strategy through the internationally recognised multidisciplinary VET pipeline program, STEMship.

Peter Schreiner commenced his working career as an apprentice toolmaker in the manufacturing and engineering industry. Following further study in engineering, Peter worked in advanced manufacturing as a CAD/CAM programmer. In his 30s, Peter started teaching in vocational education and training and for over 10 years taught engineering trade and technical programs at Swinburne University of Technology. During this time, he also worked on a range of state and commonwealth curriculum projects and worked at AMTIL (Australian Machine Tool Institute Limited) as an industry project officer.

In 2009, Peter began an educational management career at Federation University Australia managing educational programs for industry and community in manufacturing and engineering. Included was the establishment of a mechatronics diploma, interstate defence manufacturing training programs and AS1796 level welding certification programs for apprentices and industry leaders.  

In 2018, Peter started work at TAFE NSW in the Innovative Manufacturing Robotics and Science SkillsPoint located in Newcastle NSW. His role as Industry Relationship Lead involved making connections between industry, government tertiary education and TAFE NSW to influence the development of industry relevant training programs across manufacturing, engineering and aeroskills sectors.  

In 2022, Peter continued his role at TAFE NSW as an Industry Innovation Specialist, in the advanced manufacturing, MedTech, Industry 4.0 and engineering sector. This role includes the application of education and training programs in the latest industry technologies and supporting industry career pathways.

Gabriel Lodewijks is professor of aerospace systems at the University of Newcastle. His areas of interest are logistics and transport engineering in the aerospace and aviation industry.

He works on problems associated with the optimisation of maintenance, repair and overhaul processes, aircraft systems, automation of air cargo handling systems, improvement of the air supply chain of perishable products, tracking and tracing of equipment, components and people at airports and aviation related companies, optimisation of gate processes and baggage handling systems to reduce the turnaround time of aircraft, maintaining safety and security in airport logistic processes, and the improvement of the passenger experience by streamlining airport logistics.