Highly charged: Big guns gather at Brisbane lunch to talk defence

The heightened need for defence preparedness on the cutting edge of technology will be at the centre of discussions during a specially convened event in Brisbane involving high-powered experts and change-makers.

Feb 22, 2023, updated Feb 22, 2023


Friday’s event will come after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s address to the National Press Club in Canberra today, at which he is expected to announce additional defence spending in response to a more volatile security outlook.

It also comes in the wake of two landmark speeches overnight by US President Joe Biden in Warsaw and Russia President Vladimir Putin in Moscow offering vastly different assessments of the war in Ukraine to which Australia has committed millions in aid and military support since the start of hostilities.

The Guardian reports that Albanese will use the address as a “scene setter” for the government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review, compiled by the former defence force chief Angus Houston and former defence minister turned UK high commissioner Stephen Smith.

There is also speculation the prime minister will travel to Washington next month to progress the next step in the Aukus nuclear-powered submarine partnership between the US, UK and Australia.

It is against this highly-charged backdrop and Biden’s surprise visit to Ukraine just days before the anniversary of the Russian invasion that guests will assemble for the American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Brisbane on Friday to hear insights from speakers at the cutting edge of defence technology and investment.

As Biden’s tour to eastern Europe marks a show of allied solidarity with a nation engaged in what the US president calls, “a brutal and unjust war”, the topic of how the ongoing conflict will change the business of defence in Australia is expected to dominate the timely AmCham event.

Subjects covering how defence has altered in the areas of space, sea, cyber, and land, and what will happen next are also tipped to be firmly on the agenda.

The expert panel will include Boeing Defence Australia’s sustainment operations director Amy List.

List’s portfolio includes delivering sustainment contracts for the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler and other aircraft, among other logistical, support and maintenance responsibilities. She served in the Royal Australian Air Force as an aeronautical engineer and began her career on the P-3 Orion marine patrol aircraft.

Joining her will be NIOA Australia and New Zealand CEO Ben James, representing the largest Australian-owned supplier of firearms, weapons and munitions to the Australian and New Zealand defence forces, law enforcement community and licensed firearms dealer network.

Steve Baxter, founder and lead investor of Beaten Zone Venture Partners will also be on the panel.

Regarded as one of Australia’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, Baxter was appointed Queensland’s chief entrepreneur’ in 2018, a volunteer role which gave him unique insight in to the Queensland business landscape.

A co-founder and executive chairman of TEN13, a leading tech startup investment platform, Baxter’s current role with Beaten Zone Venture Partners has placed him at the forefront of early stage investments in Australian sovereign legal defence technology.

AmCham guests will also hear from David Waterhouse, who has more than 30 years’ experience working in the space and technology, media and telecom sectors and is co-founder of Hypersonix Launch Systems.

The discussion will be moderated by Rebecca Shrimpton, of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, with an introduction by University of Queensland senior specialist, defence research Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller.

  • InQueensland is the media partner of AmCham






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