Hunter Defence Conference
The 2015 Hunter Defence Conference was held at the iconic Fort Scratchley function centre and historic site on 20-21 May. Mr Scot McDonald MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter and Central Coast, officially opened the conference.
The annual conference has three objectives. Firstly, it seeks to provide a regional touchpoint for engagement between Defence industry stakeholders. This year over 140 delegates attended the conference, with representatives from the RAAF; Defence Materiel Organisation; the US Department of Defence; Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and other Prime contractors; consultants Aurecon, KPMG and others; and many regional SMEs including HunterNet members.
Secondly, the conference offers a forum for major project updates and other significant announcements. This year conference delegates heard key updates in the Joint (capability development), Maritime, Land and Aerospace domains. Of particular benefit was an update on the JSF Program by Mr Todd Mellon, US DoD, Director of Logistics and Sustainment for the F35.
The final objective is to interact with a contemporary theme of importance to industry. The theme this year was “A networked future – Integrated communications and systems for Defence.”
The theme picked up presentations from the University of Newcastle and industry stakeholders including RPDE, DSTO, CSIRO, DIIC and NICTA. Attendees were also briefed on the RAAF’s ‘Plan Jericho,’ with its vision to create an Agile, Adaptive, Information Age and Truly Joint 5th generation air force.
The evening networking function included drinks in the grounds of Fort Scratchley and firing the WWII gun with three gunners selected by raffle. Attendees were then treated to a three-course meal in the conference centre entertained by the Australian Army Reserve Band (Newcastle). Between courses attendees heard from Legacy, Soldier On, Defence Reserves Support, and AVM Chris Deeble, AM CSC (Program Manager Australian JSF Program) who spoke on 100 years of Anzac on this centenary year of Gallipoli. Proceeds from the evening function were donated to Soldier On and Legacy to promote their work supporting ex-serving personnel and their families. During the evening Mr Tony Cade, HunterNet CEO gifted $2,500 to each of these charities from conference registration fees.
Ian Dick opened the conference on Day 2 announcing plans to establish a Defence ‘business access centre’ in the region. This initiative will build on the work he has undertaken over the past five years supporting regional industry as Project Director, Hunter Defence Project. Further detail on this access centre will be released when funding arrangements have been established.