Written by Adroita Editor Fri May 28
Take a moment to consider the challenges facing Australian businesses right now, particularly in the technology and manufacturing sectors. For some, the challenges are existential. Many have hit a major slump. Their key market, oil and gas, is not just contracting, it’s tanking. They believed that key customers would never shut down, but in 2020 – the year of COVID-19 and devastating bushfires and floods – many of them did. Now, more than ever, Australian businesses need to secure supply chains and become more resilient. Thankfully, sovereignty and resilience are now well and truly on the national agenda – not only because of policy tweaks responding to the triple-shock fire, flood, COVID crises, but also because it’s in Australia’s strategic interests to do so.
The Australian government detailed a new approach in its 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan, evolving the strategy set in the 2016 Defence White Paper. This update identified key changes in Australia’s strategic circumstances, most notably that:
This new approach recognises the need to grow ‘the ADF’s self-reliance for delivering deterrent effects’ and sets as a priority ‘more durable supply chain arrangements and strengthened sovereign industrial capabilities to enhance the ADF’s self-reliance’. Defence is pivoting to respond to this rapidly changing and increasingly complex international strategic environment, with government committing $270 billion over the next 10 years to fund investment in support of the future force’s capability required to meet these challenges. The government is driving Defence to deliver on its commitments to industry, and is now co-funding up to 80 per cent of key grants for capability or capital improvement by Australian businesses, which will improve their ability to deliver within the Defence industry sector and meet Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
The issues that we at ADROITA hear each and every day about the challenges facing Australian businesses and emerging Defence industry, and the Department of Defence as well, can be distilled into three issues:
Defence has established a clear agenda for enabling the ADF to achieve its future outcomes, and mapping a business’s capability and capacity across these high level requirements is a critical first step. It requires imagination and vision – both on behalf of the business, but also Defence.
It’s clear that fast-tracking success across Defence in the rapidly changing strategic environment can only occur through partnerships – but collaboration is just the start. Partnership implies so much more than ‘working together to achieve an outcome’ – it requires mutual respect and recognition of skills and capability, implicit trust, a relationship of necessary equals, and a focus on solutions. Not only do businesses open doors to different revenue streams within the Defence sector (contracts vs grants), but they open the door to future proofing their entire business, whilst supporting Defence to future proof Australia’s sovereign interests. Hence, it’s a win-win for all.