Key South Australian bureaucrat resigns

The head of the State Government agencies overseeing defence and space industries will leave the role at the end of this year, sparking an international recruitment drive, InDaily can reveal.

Aug 25, 2023, updated Aug 25, 2023
Richard Price (second from left) at an Amcham defence panel earlier this year.  Photo: Dustin Wilson

Richard Price (second from left) at an Amcham defence panel earlier this year. Photo: Dustin Wilson

Richard Price, the chief executive of Defence SA and the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), has resigned from both roles which he has held since 2017.

Defence SA is South Australia’s lead agency for defence issues, acting as a single point of contact for all stakeholders in the industry.

Price’s resignation comes at a crucial time for defence industries in South Australia, with continuing questions about exactly how many nuclear submarines will be built in Adelaide under the AUKUS defence pact and a range of other complex challenges including preparing the workforce.

In a statement provided to InDaily, Price said the time was right for someone new to lead Defence SA.

“Defence SA has a great reputation and a lot of work ahead to grow our research and industrial base to deliver on the ambitions of AUKUS,” he said.

“Given the need for the South Australian Government to reset our strategies, ensuring alignment with federal priorities, the timing is right to find the someone to lead the agency for an extended period of time. I will have been in this role for six years in October and I believe it is important that leadership roles turn over regularly to allow new perspectives and fresh approaches.

“I have been privileged to witness outstanding innovations made possible through collaboration and the impressive transformation across both the defence and space sectors in my time with the agency and look forward to seeing the state continue to lead our national efforts.”

In response to inquiries from InDaily, Minister for Defence and Space Industries Susan Close said that Price had resigned in a letter to Premier Peter Malinauskas last week.

“Mr Price has provided outstanding service to Defence SA and the South Australian public service throughout his tenure, and I wish him well with his future endeavours,” Close said.

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“With Mr Price expected to finish up at the end of the year, the State Government will soon commence an extensive international recruitment process to find a replacement.”

The resignation comes after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defeated AUKUS dissidents from his own party at Labor’s national conference in Brisbane last weekend.

Left-wing Labor delegates and some unions had been pushing to remove mention of the AUKUS agreement from the party’s policy platform in defiance of the government’s position.

But the move failed on the conference floor, with about three-quarters of delegates voting to support the government’s position.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said nuclear submarines were needed to promote peace and protect Australia as he introduced a 32-paragraph statement outlining how the pact fit within Labor’s values and would protect Australian interests.

It also included assurances about local jobs and manufacturing.

Richard Price has been a vocal advocate of defence as the key driver of employment for South Australia over the coming decades.

Before taking up his Defence SA and SASIC positions, Price had held a number of positions with global defence giant Saab AB including heading up the Swedish company’s Australian operations.

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