Chief of Navy Speeches: Address to the Defence and Industry Conference


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2 August 2018

Address to the Defence and Industry Conference
Session 2 - Defence’s Current and Future Capabilities
National Convention Centre, Canberra

Good Morning Secretary, distinguished guests, colleagues in Defence and Industry, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are meeting today, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their Elders both past and present. I would also like to pay respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have contributed to the defence of Australia in times of peace and war.

Glad to be here today; Industry and our effective partnership with Industry is one of the most crucial drivers for our future success.

I would like to congratulate all finalists last night.

Integrated teams, this is what we are actually celebrating.

I note Kath Toohey’s words about command and control, communications and integrated weapons systems. We need to fight and train as an integrated, joint force.

Important time for Navy and to be in the Navy as Secretary Moriarty spoke of; time of unprecedented regional competition, complex and uncertain times globally and regionally, which generates increased ambiguity and uncertainty – in short, we need to be ready to do more, and to do things differently.

We need to operate our current force and deliver on our contract to Government and the Australian People. We must be ready now, while concurrently becoming ready for the future.

This includes effectively managing both our current capability and our capacity, with a focus on preparedness for existing and future contingencies. Despite the excitement of things to come, we cannot afford to lose focus on sustaining our current force. 

Security and prosperity of Australia is tied directly to the Maritime Domain. To efficiently, safely and securely access and defend the maritime domain, I need an agile, resilient and lethal fighting force.

Our Continuous shipbuilding program is well documented, with new Offshore Patrol Vessels, a new class of frigate, a new and expanded submarine force, and continued delivery of the Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyer. Government has given us the opportunity – the challenge – to redesign the way that we do business in delivering the capabilities the nation needs. It is up to us, collectively, to grasp the opportunity. That means everyone in the supply chain, from the industry partner who is building electronic components, to the Primes and shipyards who are cutting steel and welding our platforms into being and the Integrators who are installing our engineering, weapons and combat systems. Every component, and every member of the team, counts.

We cannot underestimate the scale and magnitude of this task. We are undertaking the largest reconstitution of naval capability in living history; it is a National Enterprise and is dependent upon everyone one of us here to be successful. And we will be successful.

Navy needs to collaborate with partners in Industry that will deliver against Navy’s, and the governments, required readiness and capability. I need our partners to bring innovation and expertise and translate it into cost effectiveness and enhanced readiness. 

Continuous Shipbuilding is a National Enterprise which offers a sustainable, long term work program that provides us with an opportunity to invest in our National skill base and provides Industry the certainty required to invest in indigenous capacity, research and Innovation. 

Now that the majority of Navy’s major capability decisions have been made, we are rapidly shifting our focus to successful delivery and sustainment of our current and future platforms and our workforce. We are cutting steel on the first OPV and also commissioning HMAS Brisbane this year. We have a very clear understanding of what platforms our Navy will operate over the next 20 years; however, we still have much to do. 

The future is not static and the context and needs of the future will continue to evolve. With it, we will be required to continually assess our capability against that of our potential future adversaries and look at innovative ways to address any identified deficiencies. 

While Continuous Shipbuilding is a large and important undertaking, platforms alone do not constitute capability. 

The quality of our men and women is our most important contributor to our future success. New and future capabilities will require cutting edge skills and we must grow a future workforce to design, build, maintain and operate our future platforms. This requires support not only from Industry, but from our National education and training institutions.

Furthermore, the 2016 White Paper outlined Defence as a Joint System, rather than a collection of platforms. We fight alongside our brothers and sisters in the Army and Air Force – to achieve that, we need the people, processes and technology to enable effective integration and agile decision making. 

We also need to focus on continually improving everything we do. We need more cost effective and efficient ways of sustaining our force, through life. 

This is a complex undertaking and we are not going to achieve it through our historical, transactional partnerships. We need Transformational partners that will innovate and disrupt us – positively; challenge us to be better; and work with us to achieve the required outcomes. 

And when we do that, we will share in the success – for Industry it means an assured pipeline of future work and access to global markets. For Navy, and Australia, it means the delivery and sustainment of a leading edge regional capability. 

Navy’s Mission is to fight and win at sea – together, Defence and Industry need to continue working together towards achieving this mission. 

I am pleased to introduce my good friend, AVM Gavin Turnbull, the Deputy Chief of Air Force.