It underlines the ecosystem of the Defence Industry. Underlines the way in which our investment, which is designed to ensure that Australia is safe and secure – remember only a strong Australia can be a safe Australia, its fundamental - but we need to invest in the capabilities of our Defence Forces.
They had, as Jerry said, been neglected during the six years of the Labor government. Not one naval ship was, for example, commissioned on one Australian shipyard in six years. As a consequence, many employees, many workers in the Defence Industry, lost their jobs because the lack of continuous commitment saw the industry enter what has been called ‘the valley of death’.
Now that is as the industry declines. We’ve arrested that. We’re turning that around with a very substantial commitment we’ve made in our Defence Industry Investment Plan. It is focused as a key element of our national economic plan. Every day I talk about the importance of having a clear national economic plan, one that will drive stronger investment, stronger economic growth and more jobs. Above all, it will drive jobs in industries which are at the cutting edge of technology.
I said on the radio this morning, the jobs of the future are not somewhere else, they are here in South Australia. They’re right around Australia because we are making investments in the most advanced systems in the world. That space – those investments and those employees and those firms – giants like Raytheon and BAE who are here today, they spread out to smaller companies like Cirrus, who were talking with Peter earlier, Daronmont we’ll be hearing from them in a moment and the CEA Phased Radar Arrays which are going to be a big part of the investment I’ll talk about in a moment. These are all Australian technologies at the very cutting edge of the world’s best and of course, contributing increasingly to exports.
So our focus is to ensure that so far as possible, every dollar we spend on defence, every dollar we spend on keeping Australians secure, we spend in Australia - on Australian technology developed with international partners as of course we must and that is a very powerful force. But the growth substantially is in Australian technology, Australian workers, ensuring that we create that strong economic growth here at home. That’s our commitment.
Our economic plan sees the world as it is, not as how we might like it to be. We are not complacent, we are not taking growth for granted, we recognise that we have to invest and we have to promote investment. A big part of that, as some of the smaller businesses here will talk about in a moment – because backing smaller and medium enterprises is absolutely critical for economic growth. That’s why our business tax cuts, as you know, start off with smaller firms. The first year, beginning on July 1 if we are re-elected, companies with a turnover of $10 million or less and then $25 million or less and then $50 million and less and going through it in that way. That is because we know that they have the agility, they work faster, they’re often more innovative than big firms which is why big firms seek to collaborate with them. They will respond more quickly and then over time of course, all businesses will get the benefit of those tax reductions.
Can I say that the focus in South Australia as Gerry mentioned, the 12 submarines. South Australia will become the centre of the most advanced shipbuilding technology, advanced manufacturing, in the world. This is a remarkable development and it is one that will drive innovation right across the board.
Now today, I'm able to announce that we are awarding - and this is a decision that was taken by government back in April. But has not previously been announced - announce that we have awarded a $297 million contract to Raytheon for the remediation, the upgrade and the ongoing support of the Woomera test range. Now this is an enormous asset here in South Australia. It's enormous in every respect. It is only slightly smaller than England in area, it's gigantic. The remediation of this range and the upgrading of all of the measuring and monitoring and sensor systems, this will make it the most advanced test range in the world. This is being done by Raytheon in partnership with a number of small and medium enterprises including Daronmont Technologies in Adelaide, Cirrus Real Time Processing Systems and of course CEA Technologies, the Phased Radar Array Company that I mentioned earlier, that's again an Australian leading defence technology provider. It provides a lot of new jobs, it will enable us to test and evaluate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's performance, its ability to work and operate with other weapons systems. It will also be available to our allies, in particular the United States. It will become a very significant Defence asset to benefit the Australian Defence Forces, Australian Defence Industry and of course, our allies.
Now I want to also mention the way in which the Defence ecosystem here operates with other parts of our society, other parts of Australia. The Vice-Chancellor of the University is here and I want to note that a critical part of any innovation ecosystem is the link with education and higher education in particular. One of the key elements of Christopher's Innovation and Science Agenda has been to ensure that we become better at collaboration between primary research - universities in particular - and industry. Historically Australia has not been very good at that, to be fair. Depending on the list we're either the last in the OECD or the second last. That's not where you want to be. A competitive nation like Australia wants to be at the top and we are providing the incentives to do so. A part of that of course is the way in which we're ensuring our Defence Industry investment promotes that collaboration and we're seeing that here in South Australia in very, very practical terms.
I also want to note that one of the most important agendas that we have, is ensuring that we promote the economic empowerment of our First Australians. This is a critically important agenda. We have an Indigenous procurement programme which initiated by our Government, aims to ensure that 3 per cent by number of Government contracts, go to Indigenous businesses. It has gone remarkably well, particularly driven by Defence. Adam Goodes who is heading up the engagement with Defence in this Indigenous procurement area, Adam you have done an outstanding job and I know we were talking earlier about the cooperation we have had from my Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and also with Defence. We’re now at a point where the dollar value of contracts from the Federal Government with Indigenous businesses is now over $150 million. It’s growing by more than 10 times in less than two years. It has been a remarkable progress and we’re aiming to get that up to 3 per cent over the next few years. What that is doing is providing hundreds of Indigenous businesses with the opportunity to get a start, to get that initial contract and then of course to build on that and build other customers and clients and so forth. Finally I should note in the broader context, we spend a lot of money and pay a lot of attention to the technologies and the systems and capabilities that we have for our ADF. We have to remember that all of those technologies are being used by men and women. The men and women of the ADF put their lives on the line, every day, putting themselves at risk to keep us free.
In this centenary of the First World War, of the Great War as it is often called, we must never forget that the best way we honour the diggers of the First War is by supporting the veterans and the families of today. I want to acknowledge here John Bale - a contemporary veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - John who has founded with his wife the veterans’ organisation Soldier On and has done an outstanding job. We know John well through our son in law James who is a veteran and contemporary. The work you have done John is formidable and I encourage everyone to support you. I am delighted that you are developing a new partnership here with Raytheon too. As I said yesterday at our rally, the best way to honour the Diggers of Gallipoli and Fromelles is to support the veterans and their families of today.
So you can see it’s a big ecosystem. You have big firms, big international firms employing hundreds of people. You have Raytheon here opening - and I’m officially doing this today - opening their new Naval and Integration Headquarters here in Adelaide. Again that is driven by the continuous investment, the security, the certainty provided by our Defence White Paper and the investment plan. So you’ve got the big companies, you’ve got smaller Australian companies providing the agility and the innovation that the big firms need and local opportunities. Remember when we talk about an ecosystem there will be very smart people who decide they leave the Raytheon or BAE or leave Defence and start their own business. That is how the ecosystem works. They’ll collaborate with graduates at your university Vice-Chancellor. They’ll contract with Indigenous firms and they will be reaching out too to veterans who they can bring in to be part of their team. All of this builds economic growth, strong economic growth, strong growth in jobs. But it requires a stable majority Coalition Government. It requires us to stick to a strong national economic plan every element of which, every single element of which will promote investment, promote employment and ensure that the jobs of the future are here, not somewhere else.
Thank you very much. I am honoured to be in your company today. Thank you.