hunter defence taskforce

who we are

A strong and unified voice promoting Hunter defence capability to the NSW and Australian Government.

The Hunter Defence Task Force (HDTF) within Hunter Defence is a collaborative team composed of an array of defence-oriented industry groups, enterprises, associations and governmental bodies, encompassing the expertise of military veterans, defence industry advisors, consultants, and more.

Its purpose is to support and promote the existing and potential attributes of the Greater Hunter region and its SMEs, presenting a unified voice advocating for the area’s strengths as a strategic centre for the sustained development of Australia’s Defence capabilities – across the full spectrum of present and future requirements.

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Our Goals

  1. BUILD sovereign capability and a demonstrable model of collaboration that can be rolled out nationally
  2. ATTRACT key Defence Primes and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the Hunter Region
  3. SUSTAIN regional Defence workforce growth through collaboration, regional attraction and funding initiatives

how the hunter defence taskforce can help

The work of the Hunter Defence Task Force – and Hunter Defence – involves understanding regional defence capabilities and capacities, aligning them with opportunities, encouraging SMEs to form advanced capability groups, and synergising broader product offerings via closer collaboration.


Leveraging insights into what defence capabilities are generated regionally, aligning local industry capabilities and capacities with upcoming opportunities, and encouraging SMEs within the region to form advanced defence capability groupings and synergising broader product offering by closer collaboration.


Maintaining strong links with all levels of government. For instance, an ongoing invitation to the regular Minister for Defence Industry’s (MINDI) teleconferences that discuss issues of Defence Prime/Regional SME opportunities, AIC requirements and Defence legislative, project and process changes: the Hunter DIA represents the only regional defence industry organisation included in those meetings.


Ongoing quarterly SME/Prime defence industry forums, with presentations on an ‘as required’ basis by Defence Primes with respect to current project status and emergent opportunities. Participation on behalf of, and in company with, Hunter SMEs at all key national Defence Trade Exhibitions, i.e. Avalon, Land Forces, Indo Pacific, and at international Defence Trade Exhibitions as part of Team Defence Australia.

how we will make a difference

See an outline of our 2023-2025 Strategic Plan

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.

meet the hunter defence taskforce

Meet the team of experts that’s making a difference for the Hunter’s SMEs  – and for our nation’s defence.

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Tim Owen AM

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.

bret barton
Deputy Chair

Bret Barton

Bret is the Deputy Chair, Hunter Defence Task Force and HunterNet Co-operative Senior Industry Advisor. Bret is a Defence veteran and has worked with the Canadian, US and Australian services. He has spent 20 years contributing to the Australian Defence sector as a chief executive, director and management consultant. Bret is active in Engineers Australia and has continued to support HunterNet and Hunter Defence since 2005. Bret has supported over 200 SME companies developing their Defence capabilities.

mai le taskforce
Investment NSW


Mai Le is an Associate Director Industry Development at Investment NSW, responsible for driving outcomes for the NSW defence and cyber industries at major domestic tradeshows to highlight NSW industrial capabilities, as well as advocating for industry to the Department of Defence and counterparts in foreign jurisdictions.

ivan waterfield taskforce


Ivan Waterfield has over 30 years’ experience in Senior GM, Project Director/Manager and Operational roles in businesses with up to $2.2B revenue p.a. A focused leader who thrives on assisting organisations achieve transformational change, his most recent and relevant executive role is the CEO of HunterNet.

daniel murphy taskforce
Department of Regional NSW


Daniel Murphy has worked across a range of industries including banking, not-for-profits and government. He currently leads Department of Regional NSWs investment attraction support for the defence, aerospace and technology sectors.

brook grimmond taskforce


Brook Grimmond has over 40 years’ experience as both a serving Officer in the Army  where he helped establish supply chains for the UN, US and UK forces, and as a contractor/consultant to Defence with roles at Jacobs, Sypaq, KPMG and CRONDO, servicing the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and predecessors.

sheena martin taskforce
Business Hunter


Sheena Martin is an accomplished communications and media specialist providing comms leadership for clients working across a range of industries. Her work has a global footprint, appearing in outlets including the BBC, ABC, CNN, TIME Magazine, Reuters, The Australian, SMH and AFR.

alan rankins taskforce


Alan Rankins OAM is the AIDN representative on the HDTF.  He has a 50-year history in Defence and the Defence Industry. His company Goal Group has an 18-year history in the Newcastle region and provides the Defence Ready Seminar Series to Defence SMEs. Alan was awarded the OAM in 2023 for services to industry and engineering.

dusko bajic taskforce

Dusko Bajic

Dusko Bajic is NSW Defence Industry Manager for major defence projects and Advisor to HDTF, bringing 40 years’ experience in the development, design, procurement and delivery of major infrastructure projects here and overseas, including procurement strategy, commercial alignment, contract award, project mobilisation and more.

michael mclean taskforce
Ai Group


Mike McLean represents AiGroup members in the Hunter, Nationally and ISO internationally on Strategy, Quality Management and Improvement disciplines. He’s advised RAAF, RAN, DoD CASG SPO's on various projects including Battlefield Comms and Maritime, and delivers the Defence Ready Seminars on ISO Standards.

tracey groves
Newcastle Airport


Tracey Groves is a Non-Executive Director and Executive General Manager with an extensive and diverse career spanning over three decades in big infrastructure, property and supply chain together with board governance. Tracey also helped lead the creation of the innovative Astra Aerolab at Newcastle Airport.

peter schreiner taskforcce


Peter Schreiner is an accomplished educator in the fields of manufacturing and engineering, drawing deeply on his own career in these fields, establishing educational programs in defence manufacturing training, mechatronics and more. In his role as Industry Innovation Specialist at TAFE NSW he continues to teach at the cutting edge.

gabriel lodewijks taskforce
University of Newcastle


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, working on a vast array of disciplines in these fields including maintenance, repair and overhaul, aircraft systems, automation, logisitics, supply chains and more.

trevor john taskforce
Regional Development Australia - Hunter


Trevor John has worked in the Hunter for over 30 years and is RDA Hunter’s Executive Officer and Director of Regional Development. In partnership with Defence NSW, RDA Hunter is helping deliver the State’s defence strategy through the internationally recognised multidisciplinary VET pipeline program, STEMship.

jacqui daley
The Measured Marketer


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

boris novak


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

richard a
Committee for the Hunter


Richard Anicich AM is chair of the Committee for the Hunter, an active supporter of the Hunter Defence Taskforce and an advocate for strategic growth and investment in the Hunter economy.  He is a past president of the Hunter Business Chamber (now Business Hunter). During his term as president, the Chamber released the first Hunter Defence Strategy. Following this, the Chamber worked with the NSW Department of Industry on the development of the NSW Government Defence and Industry Strategy which led to the standing up of Defence NSW as it was then known.

Featured Funding Partners

investment nsw

Investment NSW

facilitate economic development and attract investment

Investment NSW is the NSW Government’s economic development and attraction agency, with a mandate to reinforce NSW as the most desirable place in the world to visit, study, invest and do business. The agency is helping to drive the state’s economic recovery and transformation by showcasing NSW business, events, tourism and international study for new markets and investors in Australia and around the world.

Master Builders Newcastle

strong commitment to economically sustainable development of this region

Master Builders’ Association is dedicated to helping and protecting its members through the extensive range of services provided. The general public, Councils and Governments seek the MBA’s opinion and expertise on any matter relating to the Building & Construction Industry in the Hunter region. Founded in 1874, Master Builders Newcastle is the second-oldest MBA in Australia and has over 900 member companies.

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Key Stakeholders


Latest News

The latest intelligence on events, announcements, trends and developments in the Hunter Region and in Australia’s defence industry.

June 18, 2024

Industry Development Grant (DIDG) program guidelines released

The Defence Industry Development Grant (DIDG) program guidelines have been released by The Hon. Pat Conroy MP, Minister for Defence Industry. Eligible Australian businesses can begin

January 23, 2024

EOIs now open for 2024 events with Team Defence Australia

October 19, 2023

Nupress, Lockheed Martin and Thales set to boost Hunter region defence profile

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