Australia is to increase spending on defence by AUS$29.9bn over the next decade, including funding to help SMEs access global supply chain markets.
The Department of Defence has published its 2016 Defence White Paper outlining strategic defence priorities and challenges up until 2035. The department said that it wants to position the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to respond to a broader range of security threats.
The report sets out a 10-year defence budget model to 2025–26, which will see an extra AUS$29.9bn provided for defence, growing its budget to AUS$42.4bn in 2020-21. This will account for 2% of Australia’s GDP based on current projections.
The report said: “Central to the development of this Defence White Paper has been the government’s direction to align defence strategy, capability and resources. Addressing the growing gap between planning and resourcing by increasing defence funding will provide a sustainable basis for future investment and procurement decisions.”
The investment plans include:
- A continuous naval shipbuilding programme, starting with nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels
- 12 submarines, with the commitment to maximise Australian industry involvement in acquisition and sustainment, to be finalised through a competitive evaluation process
- Enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities
- Advanced training and modern equipment, health care and logistics systems
- Comprehensive upgrades to defence infrastructure across Australia
- Modernised information management, operational communications and command and control systems
The government is also creating a new Centre for Defence Industry Capability and a new approach to defence innovation. These will replace the previous Priority Industry Capability and Strategic Industry Capability Framework with “a clearer and simpler framework to prioritise and direct defence’s support to Australian defence industry”, the report said.
The Centre for Defence Industry Capability will get AUS$230m across the decade to 2025-26 and it will support SMEs and assist industry to access global supply chain markets.
A new virtual Defence Innovation Hub, with funding of around AUS$640m, aims to enhance the ability of government, academia and key industry partners to work collaboratively to accelerate the transfer of innovative technologies into defence capability.
Approval of new projects will be revised to ensure a proportional approach is taken depending on the cost, schedule, technical complexity and overall risk of projects, with capability managers given clear authority and accountability for schedules and budget.
The new Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group will streamline tendering and contracting processes and create more opportunities to tailor and fast track projects.
The report said: “This will give defence more agility to acquire rapidly evolving technology and speed up less complex acquisitions. Efficient capability planning and procurement processes within defence will ensure that the ADF has the capability it needs when it needs it, and the value for money Australia receives from its investment in defence is maximised.”