Defence contracts may be another string to Northern Tasmania’s economical bow through the internationally recognised Australian Maritime College if more were done to support the facility.
The AMC is in the process of engaging with the state government to develop a state-wide defence strategy that could feed into the national industry. University of Tasmania vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen said the AMC had put a proposal to the state government about a month ago.
“We have some of the best capabilities in regard to training so any way we can position Tasmania in that space will be positive,” he said.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister James McGrath toured the facility on Wednesday with Tasmanian Senator David Bushby, who believes the AMC is ideally placed to take advantage of research and contracts in the national defence industry.
The tour included the cavitation research laboratory, the model testing basin and the towing tank facilities.
“The AMC has some outstanding capabilities to all sorts of defence so I would like to take every opportunity to bring the decision-makers into the AMC so there is a broader understanding.”
Senator Bushby said he believed the AMC’s and Northern Tasmania’s defence capability was “misunderstood” because the state wasn’t as big as successful states such as Victoria or South Australia.
“We have the capabilities, whether its through small-to-medium enterprises or the AMC that can contribute to the defence sector and provide jobs to Northern Tasmania,” he said.
Professor Rathjen said the AMC was the international link that “brought Tasmania to the world and the world to Tasmania.”
“A lot of the research done here is funded by the American Navy and next week we are going to France to sign an agreement that will see us train a future marine workforce,” Professor Rathjen said.
He said one of the ways the AMC could contribute to the defence industry was through underwater unmanned submarines.
“We use them to look under ice caps but others use them for submarine warfare,” he said.
Tasmania does not get a lot of defence funds and Professor Rathjen said he believed it was because successful states had already established state-wide strategies.