The NSW Upper House Standing Committee on State Development is undertaking an inquiry into the Defence industry.
The inquiry is looking at how NSW based companies can maximise opportunities from defence’s growing exports and investment in defence capability. It is also looking at how we maximise economic benefits of locating defence force bases and defence industries in the regions. The committee recently released a draft Discussion Paper – Defence Industry in New South Wales.
Hunter Defence made a submission to the inquiry, with representatives of Hunter Business Chamber (Richard Anicich) and HunterNet (Tony Cade) providing evidence before the committee.
CEO of HunterNet, Tony Cade said that NSW has often been seen as missing in action in the defence space, however believes things should change.
“Hunter Defence is a joint initiative of the Hunter Business Chamber and HunterNet to collaborate on initiatives to promote the Hunter’s defence industry capabilities as well as provide strategic leadership on defence issues and to advocate to government and government agencies in relation to the region’s defence capabilities,” Tony said.
“Other states political leaders from the Premier down are far more engaged in dealing with defence and defence industries. In NSW we have missed opportunities.”
Defence invests about $5.5billion annually in its operational expenditure in NSW, with direct employment of about 26,500 people and an additional 29,500 indirectly employed. In NSW the defence sector contributes only about 2% of gross state product.
The Defence NSW submission noted that for “every $1bn in commonwealth defence spending we can attract to NSW will boost our state gross product by $1.4bn and support up to 10,000 jobs across the economy”.
“These figures alone must surely incentivise the NSW Government to get behind the defence industry in NSW and the many opportunities it presents for jobs, investment growth and the development of advanced manufacturing industries,” Tony said.
In February 2017, the NSW Government released a Defence and Industry Strategy.
“The Government is to be congratulated for having now done so and also for establishing Defence NSW as an agency within the Department of Industry to drive the state’s engagement with defence and industry,” Tony said.
“It is pleasing to see the strategy drawing the connection with the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 and the recognition of defence as a growth area for the Hunter in that regional plan.”
The Hunter Defence submission stressed the need for essential enabling infrastructure to support the opportunities for investment and development at Williamtown.
“One key piece in this puzzle is the M1 to Pacific Highway upgrade, together with the upgrade of Tomago and Cabbage Tree Roads,” Tony said.
“Support for Newcastle Airport’s plans for new airport infrastructure and the creation of a defence and aerospace hub is also critical to foster innovation and employment opportunities.”
Submissions may be submitted until 12 February 2018 on the draft Discussion Paper – Defence Industry in New South Wales.
IMAGE | Hunter Business Chamber and HunterNet are shining the light on the Hunter’s defence industry.