Friday, April 24, 2020

COVID-19 Stimulus Packages and the Defense Industry

No industry or country is immune to the effects of COVID-19 and many countries are passing legislation to stimulate the economy. The Australian government plans to spend $213 billion AUD (135 billion USD) to an economy already struggling from the effects of the summer’s bushfires. Sectors such as tourism and agriculture were hard hit by the bushfires and a planned tourism campaign encouraging people to “holiday here this year” were quickly replaced by “stay home, stay healthy” as the country enacted strict lockdown measures. The defense industry is an important part of the Australian economy and is needed to maintain jobs. Plans for the stimulus money include fast-tracking payments to defense contractors (up to 500 million AUD will be sent two weeks earlier than planned) as well as a continuation of the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants program. The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority Grants is a scheme which gives small Australian companies grants for projects that fall under prioritized defense categories. 11 companies will receive grants under this scheme to continue projects such as fiber optic cables and the development of robotic unmanned ground vehicles. 

The defense industry is also a priority for the government due to fear of decreased American support in the Pacific in the future. Currently, a planned US deployment of troops to the Northern Territory is delayed indefinitely and the USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked in Guam for the foreseeable future. Australia is prepping for more responsibility in the region, should this come to pass, by pursuing deeper relationships with India and Japan.

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