Heavily censored Defence Innovation Review released under AUKUS cover
March 16, 2023
Photo: Defence Conenct
A heavily redacted Defence Innovation Review has been released online after collecting dust during the last year.
The Defence Innovation Review was originally announced as a comprehensive review of Defence innovation, science and technology by the Morrison Government on 13 September 2021.
At that time, former Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever was selected to lead the independent review and establish how more effectively homegrown, innovative capabilities can be delivered to the Australian Defence Force.
The review was expected to provide recommendations regarding improving links between academia and industry, solving Defence capability challenges, simplifying contracts, and effective commercialised strategy for Defence-funded research and innovation.
The final product (which can be viewed here) was released on 14 March (coincidentally the same day as the AUKUS defence agreement) and features entire pages of redacted information including the removal of all key recommendations for Defence, project management tools, reports, and interviews.
The amount of information censored from the final 92-page report is so extensive that only the three, cover, glossary, and terms of reference pages, have been left unscathed.
“The global contest is changing fast (REDACTED). Australia faces an increasingly challenging defence environment, driven by three rapidly evolving, disruptive trends: a more complex and rapidly changing international climate; the changing character warfare; and rapidly emerging new technologies. In addition (REDACTED),” according to the report.
“The recent AUKUS partnership has brought a new focus on innovation capabilities (REDACTED). (REDACTED) innovation which can benefit Defence tends to come from outside of Defence – largely from industry. However, (REDACTED).”
“Australia’s Defence innovation ecosystem has delivered examples of innovation excellence and encourages world-leading innovation. Examples include gimbal-sensor technology for the unmanned aerial system program, and the flagship naval program Autonomous Warrior to demonstrate and trial autonomous vehicle capabilities. Given the rapidly evolving strategic context, (REDACTED).”
It’s a far cry from a public statement released in 2021 from then-Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price, who said the review would give the ADF access to world-leading technologies and capabilities.
“We must ensure that we are taking full advantage of Australian innovations to maintain Defence’s capability edge while ensuring innovative businesses are given every chance of commercial success,” former minister Price said.
“We need a Defence organisation that can capitalise on the knowledge and skills of Australian industry and academia to develop mission-focused technology that can solve Defence’s unique capability challenges.
“The innovation is being jointly developed with taxpayers’ funds and Australians need to know we are investing their money wisely.”