As many will recall, the first appearance of the inaugural WA DEFENCE REVIEW Annual Publication was at the WA Indo-Pacific Defence Conference in October 2018, where copies were made available to attendees. Here, during a break, Kim Beazley, AC, currently serving as WA’s Governor, performed a short acknowledgement for the launch of the publication.
The formal launch took place soon afterwards at Liberty Executive Offices in St Georges Terrace, Perth, and was attended by nearly 100 senior decision-makers and professionals from academia, Defence, government and industry. The event was arranged courtesy of Regional Development Australia-Perth (RDA) and Innovate Australia.
RDA-Perth CEO, Colleen Yates spoke of the time and effort that had been expended on the part of founder and Managing Editor, Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe, in creating what was the first publication of its kind in WA. After dedicating many years to developing his skills as a defence correspondent and analyst, and as a military historian, the launch was the fulfilment his long-held vision to fill the void left by existing media, which were largely overlooking WA’s defence propensities.
WA DEFENCE REVIEW, however, is much more than a publication; it’s an online communications and events platform for the exchange of ideas relating to defence in the West, a video channel, a policy blog, and a substantial LinkedIn group. The enterprise hosts industry site visits, round-table policy discussions, and speaker events, often featuring national and international speakers, as well as prominent local figures.
Fourteen such events have been held since April 2017, hosting nearly 1,000 people, and bringing together academia, Defence, government and industry large and small. Continued success from these projects in 2019 and beyond is expected, and they will be augmented by a monthly newsletter to enable more effective outreach and communications. Topics featured will be pertinent to current defence-relevant issues and designed to stimulate conversation on capabilities in the West – increasing WA’s value proposition to the national interest.
Encouraged by the support, congratulations and best wishes he received, founder Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe was humbled by the response from across WA’s defence sector.
Josh Wilson, Federal Member for Fremantle, said he was aware of the vital role the West had to play in the defence of Australia and thought the Annual Publication was an impressive contribution to the cause. It provided, he said, an excellent overview of positive developments in recent years and he believed WA has much more to contribute to national defence.
David Johnson, former Minister for Defence and now Defence Export Advocate, acknowledged the difficulties inherent in gaining interviews and quotes from high-ranking government and military personal, and in engaging them in discussion about WA’s role in defence; he acknowledged WA DEFENCE REVIEW’s capacity to meet that challenge.
Peter Kasprzak, co-founder and CEO of Innovate Australia, spoke of innovation in general and of the development of hydrogen-powered electric vehicles specifically, and of the impact these could have on future Defence projects. He saw WA DEFENCE REVIEW as a medium encouraging collaboration and innovation, and he anticipated an exciting future as technologies are developed for use in both defence and industry.
As the meeting broke for networking and refreshments, there was a sense that an important milestone had been passed with the creation of an effective new print medium advocating for WA’s defence sector.