Expanding the ACT’s defence and space industries

09 August 2017

Canberra’s defence and space industries are booming and they are at the heart of the ACT’s knowledge-based economy.

The defence industry is a major contributor to the ACT economy, contributing over $4.3 billion each year and providing over 23,000 jobs.

Our research institutions are also valuable partners in defence industry development.

Many of Canberra’s academics have seized opportunities to spin-off their research into commercial ventures.

Seeing Machines, for example, is a successful Canberra-based company with defence-related capability that was founded by Dr Alex Zelinsky as a spin-off from his research at the ANU.

The future is bright for our local defence industry. The next 10 years will see $200 billion capital investment in Defence capabilities, including $17.5 billion through the Federal Government’s Defence White Paper in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and cyber security capabilities. These are areas in which the ACT has particular strengths.

Last month I released the ACT Defence Industry Strategy, which will guide our efforts to grow the ACT’s defence industry and will use our key strengths – the established ACT defence presence and our people – to expand.

Over the coming months and years, we will:
- support Canberra region businesses to seize defence procurement opportunities;
- collaborate with other states and territories;
- attract investment to grow the defence industry in our region;
- continue to build a skilled, innovative and connected workforce; and
- foster new ideas and growing research and industry partnerships.

Meanwhile, our space sector is expanding significantly. Through the ANU, CSIRO, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex and many other areas, Canberra is becoming Australia’s space hub.

And I want this to grow.

We are leading the nation with our aims for Australia’s space industry. The ACT Government has worked with the South Australian Government to develop a joint paper on the development of the space industry in Australia.

The paper, which I led discussion on at the recent COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting, argues that the Federal Government needs to provide clear leadership in the development of the space sector if the Defence White Paper’s goal of having our own intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities are to be met.

Canberra’s knowledge-based industries can help further diversify our economy and both the defence and space industries are crucial to that diversification.