Australian Budget to invest over A$36 billion in defence technology and industry

On 8 May, the Australian Government has released its Budget 2018-19 on 8 May, pledging to invest over A$36 billion in defence technology and industry.

According to a press statement by Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Australia’s first priority remains to be the safety and security of Australia and its people.

As reported earlier, the Australian Government released its new National security science and technology policy agenda aimed at strengthening Australia’s national security this month. The paper outlines the national security science and technology priorities, governance arrangements and engagement mechanisms as they exist now, these will need to co-evolve as arrangements are re-defined under the new national security architecture, with the establishment of the Home Affairs portfolio and the Office of National Intelligence.

The 2018–19 Budget will continue to provide funding to support the country’s plan to nurture a defence technology and innovation industry and boost defence capabilities through the Defence Integrated Investment Program as set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper and reinforced in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

The Budget maintains the Australian Government‘s commitment to provide Defence with a stable and sustainable funding with the Defence budget growing to two% of GDP by 2020–21. The Government will provide Defence with A$36.4 billion in 2018–19 and A$160.7 billion over the forward estimates.

Supporting defence industry

In building capability in the defence industry sector across the defence supply chain, the Australian Government’s Defence Industrial Capability Plan is supporting businesses through a A$200 billion investment in defence over the next decade, which includes a naval shipbuilding program, which will invest around A$90 billion to develop the Royal Australian Navy of the future, while creating a strong and sustainable Australian naval shipbuilding industry with more Australian jobs,

A new Sovereign Industrial Capability Grants Program worth up to A$17 million per year will help small businesses in the defence industry buy equipment.

The Defence Innovation Hub is also expected to expand on its success as its program matures and builds towards a full portfolio of innovation investment. Since its launch in December 2016, the Defence Innovation Hub has awarded 37 contracts totaling more than A56 million, and manages a portfolio of legacy innovation projects worth approximately A$62 million.

Using technology to bolster border security and combat crime

At the same time, the Australian Government will also invest A$294 million package to bolster border services to boost its national security.  The package includes a A$122 million to enhance screening capability for inbound air cargo and international mail with new and upgraded equipment and advanced technology; and A$50.1 million to support 64 regional airports to upgrade to new advanced screening technologies. The Government will require major airports to upgrade screening technologies.

In combating transnational and serious crime, the Australian Government will invest A$59.1 million for the development of a new National Criminal Intelligence System that strengthen law enforcement.

Another A$30 million will be put to the Safer Communities Fund, which helps local councils and organisations to improve community security through the roll out of closed circuit television (CCTV), better lighting and crime prevention programs.

Upgrade of ICT infrastructure and building a smarter biosecurity system

The Government will put in A$130 million to upgrade the Department of Home Affairs’ ICT infrastructure for visa processing, identity management and threat analysis, to better detect and prevent threats.

To better prepare Australia for the heightened biosecurity risk from the flow of people and goods across borders, the Government is dedicating A$102 million to a smarter biosecurity system to better target the prediction, surveillance and enforcement of biosecurity risks. The Government will trial new diagnostic technologies for a seamless border process, enhance industry partnerships and build national capacity to respond to pest and disease incursions.

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