The large number of defence projects currently being tendered is a massive opportunity for Australian SMEs who are willing to think big, adopt new manufacturing processes and get involved in global supply chains, says the outgoing Australian Industry & Defence Network (AIDN) National Executive Officer.
Ms Smith, who headed both the National and Victorian defence networks for 15 years before her retirement late last year, grew the AIDN-Vic membership by over 360 per cent over 18 years to around 40 per cent of the total national membership.
“Because I had previously worked for a defence SME I had a real affinity for what a struggle it can be for defence SMEs,” she said.
During Ms Smith’s tenure, the AIDN lobbied to lower the access threshold of Australian Industry Capability (AIC) plans, and Ms Smith arranged the signing of a number of MOUs with major international defence industry associations.
AIDN’s work has helped open the door for many SMEs to a larger number of Australian defence projects.
Seeing Australian companies become significant contributors to international projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter had been hugely rewarding, Ms Smith said. “I hope in some way I have assisted them in this journey.”
Over the years, Ms Smith developed excellent relationships within the defence industry, and with Australian Defence Force personnel and overseas industry associations, and was invited to join the Ai Group Defence Council National Executive in 2008.
John (Johnno) O’Callaghan, Executive Director of the Ai Group Defence Council paid tribute to her work this week. “Sue Smith was a positive contributor to the work of the Defence Council over nearly a decade, always representing the best interests of AIDN and the hundreds of outstanding SMEs in Australia’s defence industry,” he said.