Senior Defence leaders attended the Australian Defence Magazine Defence Estate and Base Summit 2021 in Canberra in December.

The summit is an annual event that brings together industry and Defence to discuss opportunities and issues facing the Defence estate, to collaborate, improve, and deliver better outcomes for Defence.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, opened the event and noted the impressive scale of the Defence estate’s 70 major bases, 400 properties, and 30,000 structures. The Minister then outlined that industry can respond to Defence’s requirements by continuing to create employment opportunities for Australians, and supporting operational readiness for the ADF.

“Supporting local businesses is one of my key priorities-I want to see the local tradie winning work,” Minister Price said. “On average 82 percent of work is being delivered to local business, and I would like to thank each of you for prioritising local industry.”

Deputy Secretary Security and Estate Celia Perkins, gave a wide-ranging address on the future of the Defence estate. Ms Perkins highlighted the scope of the estate workforce and the Defence estate as a capability, delivering functions for Defence while also facing its challenges, including delivering substantially more infrastructure in the next decade.

“The estate also supports shaping Australia’s regional partnerships by providing facilities, training areas, and ranges to enable increased partner country training and conduct of exercises,” Ms Perkins said.

She noted ongoing challenges of delivering a sustainable estate. “The impact of natural disasters such as the extension of the traditional high-risk weather season as climate patterns change, and the extreme bushfire risk to parts of the estate all threaten the availability of the estate, and the cost of estate management,” Ms Perkins said.

The upcoming retenders of the base services contracts was a key area of discussion that generated significant interest as befits a bundle of contracts worth approximately $1.7 billion per year.

Assistant Secretary Base Services Transformation Luke McLeod, outlined that the pending approach to market for the Base Services Contracts in mid-2024 represents a once in a decade opportunity to reshape service delivery in Defence.

“We established two transformation themes back in 2020-making Defence life like community life, and digitally-centric,” Mr McLeod said.

“We see making Defence life like community life as being about how we will provide contemporary and modern services to meet the needs of our people and the future needs of our organisation. We also need to digitise our user interactions so that our people can engage with our services seamlessly and remotely.”

First Assistant Secretaries Dan Fankhauser and Monique Hamilton also addressed the conference on infrastructure and service delivery, while Defence’s industry partners gave updates on the work they are doing across the estate.