Largest defence company now a conduit to government
THE head of the country’s largest defence company will now speak as head of the country’s defence industry.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Jim McDowell has been appointed chairman of the Ai Group’s defence council, representing all Australian companies operating in the defence industry as a conduit to the Defence Minister and the Department of Defence.
Mr McDowell said he had already served a 10-year ‘‘ apprenticeship’’ as a board member but the appointment as chairman allowed him to revitalise the role at a time when defence spending was under scrutiny.
‘‘ It is the custodian of the health of the industry in a non-company way,’’ he said. ‘‘ Given defence is working under much stricter Budget pressures . . . it is important defence ( department) and ind u s t r y u n d e r s t a n d e a c h other and how that money is
Jim McDowell spent.’’ It will also give Mr McDowell the opportunity to raise common issues the industry is struggling with, including the skills shortage - he recently chaired a Government taskforce assessing Australia’s apprenticeship schemes that found them wanting – and the need to manage the defence project pipeline to avoid ‘‘ lumpy’’ d e ma n d . ‘ ‘ I f y o u s p e n d money in a lumpy way, you end up with a boom and bust cycle,’’ he said.