Australia is aiming to become one of the top 10 global defence exporters in the next decade.
The centrepiece of the government’s ambitious plan is a $3.8 billion defence export facility within the export credit agency to help companies get finance to underpin sales of equipment overseas.
A new defence export office will be set up, along with a special advocate and there will be grants to help small and medium business to compete internationally.
Australia is now ranked 20th in global defence industry exports and its market is valued between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion a year.
Australian current defence exports include parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and patrol boats built by WA shipbuilder Austal which have been exported to Middle East and Asian countries.
Thales Australia’s Bushmaster armoured vehicles made in Bendigo, Victoria are exported to countries such as Japan and Netherlands.
The coalition wants to boost that further and push Australia into the top 10 rankings.
Priority markets for Australian arms include the US, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand as well as expanding sales into the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the plan will create jobs and investment.
“We are underdone in terms of our defence industry historically,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.
“What this is all about is ensuring that we maximise the opportunities for Australian jobs, Australian technology, Australian innovation.”
Thales Australia chief executive Chris Jenkins says the plan will help generate industry confidence, and praised “world-leading technologies” manufactured in Australia.
“It is not second-rate stuff. Australia has got some of the smartest, most capable and skilled workforces in the world,” he said.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne says the plan will help the defence industry see through peaks and troughs and establish long-term investments in their equipment.
“It gives us the chance to be a serious global player,” he told reporters.
Defence Minister Marise Payne says there are safeguards in place to ensure Australian defence exports don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles said the opposition would look at the detail but he thought the government had “overcooked the goose”.
“This is window dressing,” he said.
But Australian Greens senator Nick McKim says it is a disgusting announcement.
“They want Australia to become a mass exporter of violence, a mass exporter of death, a mass exporter of human misery,” Senator McKim said.
Save the Children, which had its aid office attacked by gunmen in Afghanistan this month, said an increase in the supply of arms and munitions is not the answer to addressing the greatest threats to security of our times.