AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE INDUSTRY AUDIT A SMOKESCREEN FOR NO ACTION

By Matt Keogh MP

29 July 2020

Today it has been revealed that six months after announcing an audit program to assist Australian defence industry businesses, the audit process is still yet to begin, debunking the myth the Morrison Government is committed to supporting local defence industry businesses.
 
In February this year, the Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price announced the Morrison Government would deliver an Independent Australian Industry Content (AIC) Audit program in an effort to protect small and medium Australian defence industry businesses.
 
But now, six months later, we’ve learnt that this process is still yet to begin, with terms of reference for the audit program not yet finalised.
 
When it was announced by the Morrison Government, the audit was meant to “put foreign owned defence industry businesses on notice” when it comes to offering Australian firms work.
 
Now, we learn that six months on, this was nothing more than an opportunistic headline.
 
It’s no wonder Australian defence industry companies have no confidence that the Morrison Government has their backs, they are more about a media opportunity than providing practical opportunities.
 
If the Morrison Government was serious about backing Australian defence industry the audit program would have been completed by now.
 
Now we know it’s promise to support local defence businesses was a hollow promise, worth less than the paper this audit’s terms of reference are yet to be written on.
 
We have billions of dollars in Defence contracts up for grabs right now, with no support or initiative from the Morrison Government for local Australian defence industry businesses.

There is clearly a need for measurable and enforceable Australian industry content requirements, on prime defence contractors if we want to start providing real support the Australian Defence Industry.