Secondment program getting Defence public servants and personnel ‘out of Canberra and into industry’

By Shannon Jenkins

May 18, 2021

Mary Price
Mary Price (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The government’s new secondment program for defence employees is already providing benefits less than a month into its operation, according to defence industry minister Melissa Price.

Speaking at the Defence Connect Budget Lunch last week, Price outlined her plan to identify and remove the barriers that prevent Australian defence SMEs from winning Defence work.

She noted that Major Mark Vermeer is the first ADF officer to take part in the Defence Industry Secondment Program, which aims to give defence staff the opportunity to work with and learn from Australian businesses.

Vermeer has been working at Jenkins Engineering Defence Systems.

“Reflecting on his first few days, Mark’s feedback on that day really did blow me away. Already he’d learned so much about the hoops that Australian businesses must jump through to win Defence work,” Price said.

“And he said that when his secondment finished, he would return to Defence and change his own processes and the way that he conducts procurement. I was pretty amazed, and delighted. Mark had only been there for a couple of days and it had already been so beneficial. Imagine what he’s going to bring back to Defence after six weeks.”

READ MORE: Plan to make Australia one of top 10 global defence exporters not backed by data, audit finds

The secondment program was launched last month. ADF personnel and Australian Public Servants from the Department of Defence can undertake placements for a period of up to six weeks through the program.

“This secondment program is about getting Defence APS and Defence Force personnel out of Russell, out of Canberra and into industry. It’s about developing and building those commercial skills and expertise,” Price said.

Price told the event that the program was part of a wider plan to improve defence procurement processes, which includes the review into the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting and Defence procurement.

“From my perspective as a construction lawyer, I am determined to cut the burdensome red tape that Australian businesses too often face when tendering for Defence work,” she said.

“We are going to make significant changes to the way that Defence procures so that the needs of industry are balanced equally with those of Defence. We will reduce the cost and time of tendering. This will ensure the interests of Australian SMEs are placed front and centre of Defence procurement.”

READ MORE: Opinion: Defence’s MSP creation is without strategy, and at a premium for resources


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