AIDN National welcomes the Albanese Government’s announcement of $150 million AUD to deliver the skills and workforce Australia needs to deliver our AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine program.

AIDN appreciates this investment will create 20,000 jobs over 30 years across industry, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Australian Public Service (APS). However exactly how many of those 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years will be in the ADF and APS, and how many of these will be with Australia’s Defence Industry small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs)?

AIDN is pleased the Albanese Government is working to secure skills and jobs for 20,000 Australians over the next three decades and we are pleased that the Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy recognises that defence industry workers are a fundamental input to capability.  However, the Government’s immediate plans to secure the jobs of the 60,000 middle Australians currently in the defence industry remain unclear.

As patriotic Australians, AIDN National and our membership is optimally positioned to support the Albanese Government and the unions with the delivery of the Defence Strategy Review’s (DSR) urgent capability requirements, but with the delivery of the DSR almost four weeks ago, and no further clarity in last week’s Federal Budget, Australian Defence Industry SME’s are still waiting for the Albanese Government to clearly define what their role will be.

Ninety-seven percent of all Australian businesses are small businesses, which employ over 4.7 million people, making them Australia’s biggest employers.  The Australian Defence Industry employs approximately 60,000 Australians.  Australian SMEs are the backbone of the Australian economy and AIDN does not believe investment in further APS jobs constitutes investment in the Australian Defence Industry.

AIDN welcomes the investment in the South Australian and Western Australian Defence Industry.  AIDN membership in SA comprises of approximately 7 percent of our total membership and in WA, 12 percent of our total membership.

AIDN National calls on the Albanese Government to clarify what they are doing to support the remaining AIDN members in NSW (30 percent of members); Queensland (26 percent of members); the ACT (10 percent of Members); the NT (10 percent of Members); as well as for our members in Victoria and Tasmania.

With Labor Governments in every State and Territory across the country, except Tasmania, what is the Albanese Federal Government doing to protect the local Australian Defence Industry to protect our sovereign skills and onshore manufacturing?

AIDN is the peak industry association for SMEs who support the ADF and the Department of Defence.  We represent almost 1000 Australian SMEs, who employ tens of thousands of Australian workers across the country.  Our hardworking middle Australians contributed $10.6 billion to the Australian economy in the 2021-22 financial year, through our sovereign supply chains; modern manufacturing practices; research and innovation; skills development; and regional employment.

AIDN notes that when he assumed the portfolio, the Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy expressed an ambition to support Australian SMEs evolve from being Small to Medium Enterprises.  Where does this align with the DSR and the forthcoming Defence Industry Development Strategy (DIDS) and revised SICPs?

We note that the Prime Minister last week stated that he saw his government’s “defence expenditure being, for this generation, what the car industry was in the post-War period. That it will have a spin-off with high-value manufacturing”.

AIDN’s membership stands ready to support the Albanese Government with the delivery of the DSR and DIDS.  We are uniquely placed to deliver speed to sovereign capability to protect northern Australia and our warfighters.  However, when the Albanese Government refuses to genuinely and constructively engage with our SME membership this remains challenging.

CEO Brent Clark said “As highlighted at our Inaugural AIDN Policy Symposium and Parliamentary Sovereign Showcase in November last year, AIDN’s membership spans almost every federal electorate across Australia.  Every one of our members vote.  Over the coming months, our membership will be engaging with their local MPs and Senators to secure the role of the Australian Defence Industry in maintaining and sustaining sovereign capability for our warfighters. AIDN’s membership is agile and can pivot to support the Albanese Government to deliver it’s urgent needs requirements, but we need clarity on specific capability priorities.  AIDN calls on the Albanese Government to urgently host a Roundtable Roadshow around Australia to discuss with our members how we can support urgent capability delivery.”

Chairman Carl Quarterman said “We look forward to working closely with the Albanese Government to develop the plan for the Australian Defence Industry Development Strategy and ensuring the inclusion of Australian SMEs.  This strategy should specifically inform industry policy and be broader than Foreign Owned Primes, whose profits go offshore, and should include the innovation and development of hardworking middle Australian SMEs.”

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