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SME Capability Critical To Securing Australia’s Defence Industry

Adelaide, AUSTRALIA, June 23, 2016 – Senior leaders from Australia’s industry, defence and academic communities today highlighted the critical role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in helping Australia meet its security and defence industry objectives, calling for a concerted focus on capability planning and R&D investment.

Today’s Securing Australia’s SME Defence Capability Forum, co-convened by Lockheed Martin Australia and Australian Industry (Ai) Group, explored the key challenges and opportunities for the growth of the nation’s SME sector, not only in the provision of Australia’s defence materiel, but also in the transition of the wider economy.

In his keynote address, The Hon. Kim Beazley AC highlighted the potential for the defence sector and the role of SMEs in securing Australia’s place on the global stage.

“In rebalancing our economy in the context of the end of the mining boom, Australian industry has significant responsibilities. The defence sector will play a key role in this transition, and will provide substantial opportunities for our nation’s SMEs,” he said.

“In order to facilitate growth and to foster innovation in the defence industry, it is imperative that we place a concerted focus on our SME sector and the opportunities to expand its capabilities. Investing in SMEs, including those spearheading new research and development, will expedite the transformation of Australian industry and ensure that Australia meets its security and economic objectives,” Kim Beazley said.

Ai Group Councillor and Managing Director SAGE Group Holdings Ltd, Andrew Downs, commented: “Today’s forum raised important questions about the future of Australia’s defence sector and placed a spotlight on the role of SMEs, particularly in taking advantage of the opportunities here in the South Australian market. Industry collaboration and openness will play a key role in ensuring that we have a sustainable supply chain and reach targets for the broader industry.”

The Securing Australia’s SME Defence Capability Forum featured keynotes from: The Hon. Kim Beazley AC, Lockheed Martin Australia Board Member; Professor Anthony Finn, Director at the Defence and Systems Institute at the University of South Australia; and Jim Whalley, the co-founder and CEO of Nova Group.

Notes to editors:

The Securing Australia’s Defence Industry Forum series was conceived by Lockheed Martin Australia and Ai Group in response to this need to rebalance the economic and grow advanced manufacturing opportunities and capacity, while engendering broad industry awareness of the potential for defence as a driver of innovation, job creation and growth.  Held in Melbourne during May, the first forum of the series featured leading commentators including Victorian Government’s Lead Scientist Leonie Walsh, Professor Tony Peacock, Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centres Association, and Jens Goennemann, managing director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, among others.  The Securing Australia’s SME Defence Capability Forum in Adelaide on 23 June 2016 featured contributions by Australia’s leaders in innovation, science, technology and industry, including:

  • The Hon. Kim Beazley AC, Lockheed Martin Australia Board Member
  • Professor Anthony Finn, Director, Defence and Systems Institute, University of South Australia
  • Mr Jim Whalley, Chairman, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nova Group
  • Chris Burns CSC, Chief Executive Officer, Defence Teaming Centre Inc
  • Dr Mark Hodge, Chief Executive Officer, Defence Materials Technology Centre
  • Ms Amanda Heyworth, Non-Executive Director, UniSA Ventures
  • Andrew Downs, Ai Group South Australia Branch Past President, Council Member and Group Managing Director, SAGE Group Holdings Ltd
  • Jack Mahoney, General Manager, Lockheed Martin Australia Electronic Systems

About Lockheed Martin Australia

Headquartered in Canberra, Lockheed Martin Australia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. The company employs more than 1,000 people in Australia and New Zealand working on a wide range of major programs spanning the aerospace, defence and civil sectors.

About Ai Group

Ai Group is a peak industry association representing Australian business.  Along with affiliates, Ai Group represents the interests of more than 60,000 businesses in an expanding range of sectors including: manufacturing; defence; engineering; construction; automotive; food; transport; ICT; and labour hire.

Ai Group is an organisation committed to helping Australian industry with a focus on building competitive and sustainable industries.  It ensures through policy leadership that members have a voice at all levels of government.