The Northern Sovereign Maritime Sustainment report

The Northern Sovereign Maritime Sustainment report by ASPI ( Dr John Coyle and Gill Savage) should be commended and studied by those individuals and businesses whom conduct commercial activities in Australia’s North.

It is the first paper that identifies the huge potential of Australia’s North in supporting sustained military operations, and the key role of SME’s in this support.

As a long time time operator in Australia’s North, I have seen this potential, geared primarily by the Resources industry, and very capable SME’s whom are more than capable of supporting large technical work scopes, suffer from the fluctuations of the boom/bust cycles and cant get up a head of steam.

Long term and deep investment in Australia’s northern ports, airports, road networks, RMCs and distribution hubs make a lot of sense for both our nations strategic disposition and economy.

In particular Aust’s NW needs such investment. I applaud the announcement of the Regional Maintenance Centre nomination in Cairn’s QLD, however where is its equivalent in the NW! There is a lot of water and road between Garden island WA/Henderson and say Exmouth/Broome. We cannot afford to be reliant on Port Hedland/Dampier as the nominated ports and infrastructure to support ADF activity. These hubs are almost exclusively geared for Minerals and Oil and Gas activity.

We recently attended a Defence forum in which a very senior WA state personality and ex defence minister stated how in the West (hemisphere) and in particular in Australia, we get fixated on capabilities and platforms, and not necessarily the art of ‘warfighting’ and logistics. This needs to change. Our SMEs in Australia’s North have the capability (perhaps not the capacity) in supporting our military’s activities. A focus on infrastructure investment and the development of 4th Line Logistics support (civilian orientated) service commitments to our northern based SMEs will pay dividends strategically.