Melbourne Defense Company Raises Concerns About Australia’s Military Procurement Process

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A Melbourne-based defence firm is concerned about Australia’s military strategy review because it thinks it would disregard domestic manufacturing and industry in favour of large foreign corporations. 

The Australian government has published an extensive study of its military strategy and procurement procedures, which may favour large foreign corporations and run the risk of underestimating the nation’s industrial potential.

The investigation found that the “quest for perfectionism” had contributed to procurement process delays and that earlier mandates for Australian content had occasionally interfered with procurement procedures.

As a result, the assessment recommended increased off-the-shelf purchasing and advised Defence to weigh the requirement for local content versus fast acquisition. 

Michael Zimmer, the CEO of Melbourne-based Cablex, a defence company, countered that the assessment had disregarded the capabilities of the Australian industry and ran the risk of funding foreign economies at the expense of Australian-owned businesses. 

The business advises Australia not to undervalue its potential to obtain military hardware from domestic producers. 

“We’ve got a lot of companies qualified in Australia to do that kind of work. Why shouldn’t they be involved? What’s missing is the policy settings that require, or compel, the primes who make the equipment to deal with the Australian industry,” he said.

Eamon Gallagher, a defence industry consultant, notes that previous government mandates for Australian content had sometimes interfered with procurement processes. He suggests that Defence should balance the need for local content against the timely acquisition, perhaps by implementing more off-the-shelf procurement.

Defence sector consultant Eamon Gallagher observes that prior government requirements for Australian content occasionally interfere with procurement procedures. He proposes that Defense strike a compromise between the requirement for local content and the necessity for immediate purchase by using more off-the-shelf purchasing.

The report acknowledged the “clear need” for an improved procurement procedure but cautioned that the sheer volume of projects threatened to overwhelm the Defense Department’s meagre labour and resource base.

The evaluation found that the space industry was crucial to creating sovereign capability, and Australia was advised to establish and maintain a trained defence space workforce. 

While acknowledging that it would take decades to develop new capabilities, Fleet Space co-founder Matt Pearson said that Australian businesses, including Fleet Space, were prepared immediately. Fleet Space won a recent multimillion-dollar contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command.

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