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Defence White Paper 2013: Science and Technology

While short-term focus may be on the big ticket Defence equipment purchases and Australia's commitment to local defence industry manufacturing as outlined by the Australian Government in its 2013 Defence White Paper released today, we have reviewed the Paper with particular focus on matters relating to Science and Technology.

From a Science and Technology perspective, the Paper states that there is a continued need to invest in science, technology and analytical capability to ensure our standard awareness and response capability remains ahead of potential threat. High priority remains on science and technology (via DSTO as lead Agency for national security science and technology & DMO).

The Government intends to establish the Defence Innovation Forum (DIF) with the goal for bringing industry and academia together to generate innovative proposals with Defence. Notably, this initiative will be closely aligned to those being established under the Government’s recent Plan for Australian Jobs (which includes Innovation Precincts and specifically a defence hub based in Adelaide).  Importantly, it appears that the DIF will provide ‘a single point of entry for industry and academia’ into defence innovation programs.

A key goal the Paper elucidates is to strengthen relationships with Australian Industry through collaborative partnerships that ‘empower industry to assume a leadership role’ in the defence sector. The Paper also details that through the Treaty between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America concerning Defense Trade Cooperation, the Government support to industry to access overseas markets through the Treaty provides a single assessment process for admission to the Approved Community. Once admitted, companies can transfer eligible articles within the Approved Community without the need to apply for additional export licences or authorisations – making it easier for Australian firms to access the very complex licensing requirements to access the US defence market. For further details about the legislation and requirements surrounding this Treaty, please refer to our recent article here.

Finally, we also note that the Paper takes a more conciliatory view of China’s modernisation of its military than it did in the 2009 White Paper. Instead, there is considerable reference to the emerging opportunities in the Indo-Pacific market for defence and related technology products and services. There is even a section referring to developments in Antarctica.

Contact:  Jenni Lightowlers, Susie Reece JonesAnne Donaldson

7 May 2013