Minister's Message

Australian Minister for Defence Message

The Hon Pat Conroy MP
Minister for Defence Industry

It is a great achievement to continuously publish the Australian and New Zealand Defence Directory for 50 years. The growth in the size and scope of this directory reflects the growth and development of the Australian defence industrial base over that time, and its increasing importance to our national security. 

There is no shortage of examples of ingenuity and innovation in Australia’s defence industry over the decades. Indeed, Australia’s defence industry, including innovative small businesses and pioneering researchers, continue to develop unique, world-class capabilities today. 

What is striking is the rapid evolution of complex supply chains that integrate researchers, small and medium enterprises and Primes with the Australian Defence Force to produce world-leading capabilities. 

This process is exemplified by the Ghost Bat program – the first military combat aircraft to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia in more than 50 years – which involved more than 150 Australian companies who have contributed to its creation as a collaboration between Air Force and Boeing Australia.  

As Australia looks to advance our defence capabilities, we anticipate these supply chains will further expand to encompass more partners in the defence industrial bases of our allies and international partners, as we look to create asymmetric capabilities and mutually reinforce our resilience.

These developments will provide new opportunities for Australian industry and support the development of a stronger and more internationally competitive defence industrial base.

Australia’s strategic circumstances are very different from those the nation confronted in 1974. Indeed, the strategic challenges outlined in Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update continue to accelerate, as recognised in the independently-led Defence Strategic Review that was publicly released in April this year.

We see increasing competition economically, militarily, strategically and diplomatically, alongside a contest of values and narratives; a large-scale military build-up without transparency or strategic reassurance; and rising tensions and reduced warning times contributing to the risk of military escalation or miscalculation.

And these challenges are being amplified by the impact of climate change. 

The Government has supported the strategic direction and key findings set out by the Defence Strategic Review, and embarked on the most consequential reforms to Defence in a generation, setting out a blueprint for Australia’s strategic policy, defence planning and resourcing over the coming decades. 

To maximise deterrence, denial and response options for the Government, the ADF must harness effects across maritime, land, air, cyber and space to deliver enhanced and joined-up combat power.  

Our Navy must have enhanced lethality including through its surface fleet and conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines underpinned by a continuous naval shipbuilding program.  

Our Army must be optimised for littoral operations in our northern land and maritime spaces and continue to provide a long-range strike capability. 

Our Air Force must provide the air support for joint operations in our north by conducting surveillance, air defence, strike and air transport.    

We must also continue to develop our cyber and space capabilities.

Maximising the deterrent effect and response options from ADF capabilities is critical to ensure strategic balance in our region

There is no greater whole-of-nation project than the acquisition of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

On 1 July 2023, the Australian Submarine Agency was launched and is responsible and accountable for the management and oversight of Australia’s conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarine program.

It has hit the ground running to deliver what will be the biggest single investment in defence capability in our nation’s history.

The Government is investing $6 billion over the forward estimates in Australia’s industry and workforce, and $30 billion into the industrial base over the life of the program. This will create around 20,000 direct jobs over the next 30 years.

And this is not just about building Australian submarines.  

Australia will also be providing maintenance to visiting and rotational US and UK submarines, and contributing to the supply chains of our AUKUS partners.

We are also working closely with our AUKUS partners to accelerate development of advanced defence capabilities where they will have the most impact – both for deterrence and for our operational effectiveness.

A genuine partnership between the Government, industry and unions will be central to speeding up the acquisition of vital defence capabilities and growing the Australian defence industrial base.

The Government is committed to providing the clarity and guidance that industry needs to make informed business decisions based on Australia’s priorities.

A key element is the Defence Industry Development Strategy, which establishes the framework and principles for the direction of defence industry policy for what will be a consequential decade for Australia’s national security, and beyond.

The Government is also engaged in reforms to defence procurement to support the development of Australian defence industry and respond to the Defence Strategic Review.

One of the most profound differences in Australia’s defence industry over the past half century is the impact of technological change.

Technological disruption is the new normal. With new capabilities emerging, we have to invest in a focussed way, to speed up the innovation and acquisition cycles, to deliver credible deterrence over the short and long term.

That is the purpose and mission of the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA).ASCA commenced operations on 1 July 2023 and will fast-track delivery of advanced technologies needed to solve Australia’s highest national security challenges.

It will enable Defence to lift our capacity to rapidly translate game-changing ideas into capabilities that give the ADF an asymmetric advantage.

It will also help align and transform the US, UK, and Australian defence industrial bases, through our AUKUS Pillar II efforts.

The Government is investing $3.4 billion over the next decade to accelerate the development and transition into service of disruptive capability solutions that address priority defence challenges at the pace and scale required to deliver advantage to our war fighters. 

This is an additional $591 million above planned spending on defence innovation over the decade

One of the critically important priorities identified by the Defence Strategic Review is the establishment of a Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise.

Acquiring enhanced long-range capabilities across all domains, which will deliver a persistent, long-range, all weather, rapid response capability that is operationally deployable and tactically mobile is fundamental to the ADF’s ability to hold an adversary at risk in Australia’s northern approaches.  

And the Government is committed to establishing domestic missile manufacturing, to build up Australia’s defence industry, protect our supply chains and contribute to easing global demand.

Across the services and across the nation, the Government is working at pace to deliver its vision of a fully integrated and more capable ADF that will work seamlessly across the five domains to deliver enhanced and joined-up combat power.

We have also demonstrated our commitment to supporting Australian defence industry so we can make more of the critical defence equipment we need and build our industrial base. 

Implementation of the Defence Strategic Review represents the most substantive transformation of Defence in over 30 years, requiring whole-of-government and whole-of-nation uplift to ensure we have the ability to defend not only the nation, but our interests. 

Defence industry will be our critical partners in this great national endeavour. 

I am pleased to support the 50th anniversary edition of this Directory, and with it, the opportunities to work in partnership with the industry to strengthen Australia’s national security. 


The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific


Ministerial Message