In a day of firsts, 19 April 2017 saw the launch of the WA DEFENCE REVIEW, WA’s first defence communications and events platform, dedicated to airing views on defence industry matters, military affairs, national security and geo-political analysis. Held at the Parmelia Hilton in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce, the event was attended by 134 people, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in Perth.
The new communication and events platform is the brainchild of Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe, author of over 500 articles on defence and security issues and published internationally, and a longstanding advocate of strengthening Australia’s Indian Ocean interests. It aims to facilitate and publish commentary pieces from notable Defence sector decision-makers and commentators from across Australia, providing an opportunity for them to communicate and engage with the West.
Significantly, WA’s first Minister for Defence Issues, Paul Papalia CSC, MLA, was in attendance, addressing the assembly at the outset of his term in the recently elected State Government. Also present were luminaries such as Senator Linda Reynolds, a Liberal Party Senator for Western Australia, and strong advocate for defence, and Kim Beazley, former Australian Ambassador to the USA, and much respected former Australian Defence Minister, on whose watch HMAS Stirling was established in WA.
There was an air excitement at the gathering, and an expectation that this was the start of an important chapter in WA defence industry circles. The event received strong support of local industry, with the AMC Management, and Edith Cowan University (ECU), both represented as Gold sponsors; the Department of Commerce, AVI and L3 Oceania as Silver sponsors, and Bronze sponsors demonstrated by Hofmann Engineering, Forgacs Marine and Defence and Regional Development Australia – Perth.
The keynote speakers were high profile and brought from interstate. Major General Jeff Sengelman, Special Operations Commander, made a rare public appearance and outlined the challenges and opportunities he sees in developing initiatives to counter security challenges. He provided insights into current developments being conducted by his Special Operations Command, and the new Defence Innovation Hub in collaboration with industry.
The second key speaker was Kate Louis, First Assistant Secretary from the Department of Defence’s Industry Policy Division, who described the Australian Marine Complex, and the Henderson industrial strip as a “wonderful infrastructure base” – a reality WA has long worked to impress upon the decision-makers in the East.
WA DEFENCE REVIEW is a commercial business with the objective of facilitating and publishing commentary pieces from notable Defence sector decision-makers and commentators from across Australia, providing an opportunity for them to communicate and engage with the West. It will also run its own events program, and will regularly host Defence-related events with high-profile, reputable speakers from across the spectrum of politics, Government, Defence, industry and academia. A further service is the provision of a Video Channel, featuring event highlights and interviews with prominent figures in the field.
The launch of WA DEFENCE REVIEW is part of a confluence of factors that should see WA shed its long-held image of isolation and propel it to the forefront of Australia’s defence and security debate. The levels of interest and engagement across the political, governance and industry sectors have never been higher in WA’s history. Indeed, a new day has dawned for WA defence!