Professionals Australia calls on the Government to fix the technical skills crisis in Defence with the launch of its ‘Securing Defence Capability’ white paper. The Hon David Feeney MP will launch the white paper at Parliament House today.
“Australia’s modern defence capability depends on in-house engineering and scientific skills. This technical skills crisis threatens our national safety and security,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.
“Clearly, the Australian Defence Force must maintain the expertise to develop, select, acquire, integrate, maintain and operate defence technology and keep our communities safe. Yet as we launch this white paper today, our Defence workforce faces another round of untargeted staff cuts.
“20 percent increases in project costs are attributable to a lack of in-house expertise in Defence procurement. If the Government fails to act, we face up to $9 billion waste over the next four years. That could build 4 hospitals, 70 schools, a Sydney light rail, or Stage 1 of WestConnex. Taxpayer dollars are wasted without internal technical expertise.
“Our Defence science, engineering and technical workforce maintain a critical sovereignty of expertise, not motivated by profit, that ensures defence purchasing and maintenance decisions are based on concern for both the wellbeing of, and value for, the Australian community.
“When the HMAS Kanimbla broke down in Sydney Harbour and was, together with sister ship HMAS Manoora, subsequently decommissioned early at a cost to the taxpayer of $500 million, the Rizzo Review attributed the disaster to shortcuts in maintenance and a loss of engineering capability in Defence.
“Until this crisis is addressed there will be failures and lost military capability. There will certainly be cost blow-outs. And there may be post mortems. We are calling on the Government to take six actions immediately to fix the engineering, technical and science skills crisis in Defence.
“We want a commitment to stop the erosion of our in-house government technical and professional workforce. We want to see technical integrity and safety in the specifications, development, delivery and maintenance of Defence material and infrastructure.
“We need to review all existing engineering contracts to identify what can be delivered more effectively in-house, and what is required to maintain sovereignty of professional expertise.
“Australia cannot be a smart customer if we slash expertise. It is time to stem the flow and for the Government and address our technical skills crisis in defence,” said Mr Walton.
Media contact: Jessica Kendall 0414 679 857