Regional SMEs are set to reap the rewards of the Australian Government’s forecast $270 billion spend on new and upgraded Defence capabilities over the next decade, the Hunter Defence Conference heard today.

Speakers from Army, Navy and Air Force, Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, as well as Defence Primes Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems and Navantia Australia, outlined the capability requirements they will be seeking over the next decade. The conference heard that policy changes that support increased local procurement would result in more work going to defence regions like the Hunter.

The speakers outlined the scope of planned and potential defence capital works in the Hunter region, including $850 million in new construction projects up to 2029 and a $210million redevelopment of the Singleton Military Area.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price announced a funding grant for a ‘Defence Ready’ training series to be delivered by Hunter Defence, designed to help SMEs in the region take advantage of the increased contracting opportunities.

Minister Price announces new program for the Hunter

The $430,000 Defence Ready Pilot, to be offered to businesses free of charge, will provide vital information and education to help companies become ‘defence ready’. It will be delivered by Hunter Defence partners Goal Group, Australian Industry Defence Network and HunterNet.

“Regional businesses like those in the Hunter provide crucial support to Defence,” Minister Price said.

“They are supporting Australia’s security and ensuring our nation can achieve a robust, sovereign defence industry.

“The Defence Ready Pilot is all about helping more local businesses win Defence work.

“It will provide free online workshops to Hunter region businesses to help them understand what it takes to work with Defence, and how to navigate the defence industry landscape.”

Increased investment will also bring new industry jobs to the region. Daryl Martin, Program Manager for F-35A delivery partner Lockheed Martin Australia, said the company’s Hunter workforce had grown from 25 to 170 since 2017, with plans to add another 150 employees over the next five years.

The conference also received updates on the development of Astra Aerolab and the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct, both of which will be attractors for defence industry investment.

The sold-out Hunter Defence Conference at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley attracted nearly 200 delegates and presenters from across Australia.

Media contact: Tim Owen, 0477 201 000


About Hunter Defence

Hunter Defence is a collaborative organisation that promotes Hunter industry expertise and capability to attract defence manufacturing, supply and sustainment opportunities to the region. It includes key stakeholder groups across business, industry, government, education and training and is financially supported by HunterNet, Newcastle Airport, Business Hunter and the NSW Government.