Despite Christopher Pyne's ambitions to turn Australia into a defence and naval exporter on par with countries like Britian, there are still major gaps in our manufacturing capabilities.

Chief executive of Austal David Singleton told Defence Connect that Australia is far behind countries like Germany in terms of manufacturing capabilities.

“Germany is one of the world's leading, if not the world's leading, industrialised nation from a manufacturing point of view, so it's not surprising that in Europe and in Germany you can buy pumps and motors and engines and gearboxes and all manner of equipment can be bought either in the country or very locally,” Singleton said.

“Out here in Australia, our industry is much more around agriculture and mining and oil and gas, and generally in commodities and medicine and things like that, and so we have a different set of capabilities here." 

While Singleton remains skeptical of Australia being able to catch up and manufacture every single component locally, he does see lots of opportunities for smaller Australian companies to step into the supply chain and profit from smart, agile decisions. 

“I do [think there will be] quite a significant amount of work for Australian suppliers, and you are seeing there's a lot of start-up and small businesses around Australia doing some remarkable things in certain engineering areas that can be supported through these sorts of programs," he said. 

“One of the things that we've been looking at is for one of the gearboxes that we need for the boat, for us to be able to use a local company that can manufacture significant parts of the gearbox to a European gearbox and manufacture it down here and assemble the gearbox down in Australia, and that gives them a sort of a start to get going in that kind of gearbox.”