The Defence Advocates Meeting with CASG was held on 26 March and the following provides an overview of discussion points, key initiatives, and how Hunter Defence can support those in our region during this unprecedented chapter in Defence.

Overview:

  • The Nation is in unchartered territory, as are all other nations
  • A huge amount of work is being done at a Federal level, as well as National Security Committee (NSC), National Cabinet, and other groups of portfolios – including State Governments – to provide support for industry in Australia
  • The focus is currently on how to deal with defence industry as a total essential industry base for Australia and this is being worked on through the National Cabinet process
  • The key issues affecting the Defence Industry and support to the ADF are:
    • Domestic and overseas supply chains
    • Cross border quarantine
    • Keeping jobs and business going to ensure the country comes out the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic with Australian Defence Industry base intact
  • There have been some concerns raised that CASG will be slowing down however the opposite is true. CASG has no intention to put foot on break for the Australian Defence Industry and, on direction from Government, is trying to ramp up activity. This is being done with a strong focus on Australian Industry.

 Key Initiatives:

  • CASG has budgeted for a $6 billion spend this year, approximately half of which goes to Australian business. The budget next year is for $18 billion and it is expected that half of the spend will again go to Australian businesses
  • Government has directed CASG to bring forward projects where possible, noting that some will inherently be delayed due to supply chain issues and abilities of companies to continue production rates
  • CASG is reducing their payment terms to pay within two days of a correctly rendered invoice and are ensuring Prime contractors flow this down to subcontractors. Some Primes have moved to seven-day terms
    • Message to Primes: Government is doing everything it can to keep the wheels turning and they need Primes to pay SMEs as quickly as possible
  • CASG is telling Primes to advise of any shortage of resources, material or people, so that Government can assist
  • There is a concerted effort to look across country and within the Integrated Investment Program (IIP) for Defence projects, as well as State projects, that can be brought forward
    • For the Federal Government in the Defence Industry base, local industry content is a major focus
    • Any good ideas/unsolicited proposals are to be passed through CASG to divisional heads and this is highly encouraged
  • Government is also focussed on retooling opportunities with Defence assistance, micro credentialing, and training over the next 6 months to prepare industry for the future and they come out of this as best prepared as they can be.

How Hunter Defence Can Help:

  • The Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) has been tasked to be the primary coordination agency between Defence and Industry. Hunter Defence is engaging closely with CDIC and we ask you to please come to Hunter Defence in the first instance so we can table ideas and issues
    • Hunter Defence is involved in weekly conference calls with CASG and Ministers when available.  Hunter Defence is the only regional cooperative group included in these calls outside of the state bodies.
    • Hunter Defence is also in weekly contact via conference call with Defence NSW and is working closely with the NSW state government in looking at ways and means of supporting NSW Defence Industry businesses.
  • Take this opportunity to advise Tim Owen what your issues are
    • Tim has been successful in the last two weeks in bringing attention to the higher Defence organisations the plight of regional SMEs
  • Hunter Defence, in coordination with AIDN, is working to convert the Defence Readiness Seminar Series to an online format, with support from the Federal Government. This will ensure access to relevant training is available for regional SMEs in the Hunter to during this very difficult period.

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