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Ian Smith

Ian Smith

Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development

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Major demand, growing industry

Major demand, growing industry

In 2014-15, the defence sector in Regional NSW employed 12,000 people and contributed A$1.6 billion to the economy.

NSW has the largest number of Defence bases and facilities in Australia and is home to over one quarter of its military and Defence civilian personnel. Defence facilities generate significant economic benefits, including the construction of infrastructure and the extensive utilisation of local goods and services.

One third of defence industry employment occurs in Regional NSW, where the sector generates an important proportion of regional productivity. For example, in the Hunter and Shoalhaven, the economic activity attributable to defence is estimated to be between 8% and 12% of Gross Regional Product.

NSW Defence Bases

Defence precincts

Defence precincts

Regional NSW’s defence industry features clusters of large-scale international prime contractors, agile SMEs and world-class research and development institutions.

Strengths have developed around Defence Force presence and requirements. For example:

  • Newcastle
    Air Force air combat capability, aerospace, maintenance, repair and overhaul, electronics, advanced manufacturing, infantry training, ship building and repair.

  • Nowra
    Naval aviation, air targets, electronics and testing, maintenance, repair and overhaul, systems integration and simulation.

  • Wagga Wagga/Albury
    Australian Defence Force training, base support, logistics and munitions.

  • Mid North Coast and New England
    Ship building, maritime sustainment and pilot training.

  • Wollongong
    Armoured steel plate, manufacturing, welding, electronics and communications.

The defence industry is supported by a network of service suppliers. The presence of substantial, technologically-advanced defence capabilities within the State presents diverse opportunities for businesses. Many major international companies have already established headquarters or operations in NSW.

Recent developments offer long-term investment opportunities, including the Australian Government’s commitment of A$195 billion to modernise Australia’s defence capability, guaranteeing long-term demand for sovereign defence industry capabilities, products and services.

The Australian Government supports the defence industry through its Industry Policy Statement, the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, the Virtual Defence Innovation Hub, the Defence Innovation Portal and significant research funding.

Established defence companies

Sector support

The NSW Government’s Defence and Industry Strategy, 'NSW: Strong, Smart and Connected' supports further development of defence industry precincts.

The dual objectives of the strategy are to support Defence and drive greater investment and innovation in NSW. Defence NSW is a compact, dedicated team formed within the NSW Department of Industry to execute the strategy. 

The strategy will grow and connect regional networks to enhance collaboration and develop business opportunities. The Government will also facilitate regional opportunities for the defence industry to invest and expand.

NSW is committed to creating the conditions for sustainable, technologically-advanced and globally-competitive defence industries across the State.

For more details, visit the assistance page.

Page image credits: NSW Department of Industry

Success stories

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Ian Smith

Director, NSW Office of Regional Economic Development
Office contacts
Suite 1, Level 1
47-59 Wingewarra Street
DUBBO NSW 2830