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The conference, to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley on 22–23 August, will hear from Defence primes, government and industry leaders and senior capability development staff from Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters.

The keynote speaker is the former minister for defence and defence industry the Hon Christopher Pyne. Conference sessions will include the First Assistant Secretary of the Defence Industry Policy Branch, Dr Sheridan Kearnan, and a session from the Defence Innovation Hub.

Hunter Defence Chair Tim Owen said the conference would focus on national-level support for regional SMEs.

“The conference is squarely aimed at linking primes and regional SMEs in terms of global supply chain opportunities and advising manufacturers and suppliers how they can ensure they are Defence-ready,” Mr Owen said.

The conference incorporates an industry showcase where industry leaders will speak directly with SMEs.

Hunter Defence is a collaborative group that promotes Hunter industry expertise and capability to attract more defence industry manufacturing and supply opportunities to the region. It includes key stakeholder groups across business, industry, government, education and training, with a footprint effectively covering companies and contractors between Sydney and the Queensland border.