TIM Owen will head a new “high-level advocacy and action group” with a mission to promote the Hunter’s defence industry and drive more defence contracts and investment in the region.
The Hunter Defence collaborative task force will be launched in Newcastle on Wednesday afternoon at the Hunter Defence Forum.
The new task force will focus on demonstrating the capability of established Hunter defence industry suppliers to government and prime contractors, as well as upskilling local SMEs to become ‘defence ready’.
Hunter Defence represents diverse industry stakeholders in the region, including manufacturing and supply firms, industry networks and government.
Mr Owen, who in 2014 resigned as the member for Newcastle after admitting to lying under oath to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about political donations, is a former Air Force Commander and 32-year services veteran with significant expertise in the Australian Defence Force contracting process and experience working with defence primes.
He said the new group would provide a “strong voice” promoting Hunter defence industry capability and help position regional firms to take advantage of upcoming opportunities.
“We have firms with excellent capability in the Hunter but that is only part of the equation; winning contracts is a competitive business that requires deep industry insight and high visibility with primes, defence stakeholders and government at all levels,” he said.
He said Hunter Defence would aim to align local industry capabilities with coming opportunities and also encourage more SMEs to acquire defence capability through education, training and advice.