By Robyn Molloy

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price reaffirmed the Federal Government’s election commitment to build three new navy vessels at Henderson in her first official engagement since being named Minister in the new Liberal Government.

Price was at last week’s launch of WA’s new Defence Science Centre (DSC), which will maximise defence-related research and development opportunities.

“During the election campaign the Prime Minister announced that the Government will spend $1b   to build three navy vessels – two mine warfare support vessels and one hydrographic vessel – at Henderson shipyard,” she said.

“I’m very much looking forward to being part of that team that delivers on this, and of course these commitments, alongside the other activities and funding we’ve announced previously.”

DSC is a collaboration between the State and Federal governments and WA universities including Curtin, UWA, Murdoch and ECU – all CCIWA Members.

“Over the coming years and decades this centre will help force connections so that universities, industry and defence are working together to boost WA’s participation in defence business, to provide the technologies of the future and so that this stage is even stronger and more competitive when it comes to research and development,” Price said.

She said it was impressive that WA’s four public universities had already signed up to the centre, which the Federal Government had contributed $250,000 towards for its first year.

Price also affirmed her support for small to medium sized enterprises as “hard working businesses that are crucial if we are to meet Australia’s capability needs”.

“As someone who has had over 25 years over commercial and legal sectors, I’m looking forward to using that skillset for the betterment of defence industries and clearly my focus would be on making sure WA continues on its journey and continues to grow,” she said.

Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said the DSC would act as a matchmaker between universities, government and industry to support security and technology development and capability requirements, with a focus on WA's defence industry.

“Developing a DSC in WA will greatly enhance collaboration between the academic and industry sectors and makes us part of a broader national network of defence-related research,” he said.

“This will enable WA researchers to more easily link into projects, boosting our own state’s capability and future-proofing WA’s defence industry, keeping and growing skills and knowledge here and creating job opportunities for West Australians.”

Headed up by Michele Clement as Acting Director, DSC will be governed by a board of academic and industry experts and chaired by Woodside’s Intelligent and Autonomous Systems General Manager Russell Potapinski.

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