Victoria Minister for Manufacturing Exports and Trade Richard Dalla-Riva
Commonwealth Defence Purchases Fails To Provide Sufficient Opportunity For Regional Victoria
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Government is deeply disappointed by the Commonwealth’s decision to source overseas its entire $1.9 Billion purchase of new military trucks for the Australian Defence Force.
The decision will mean that all 2,700 trucks being bought under the Land 121 Phase 3 procurement will be wholly imported from Germany.
Minister for Manufacturing, Exports and Trade, Richard Dalla-Riva, said this is a significant missed opportunity for the Commonwealth to guarantee investment and jobs growth in the defence industries of regional Victoria.
“Thales Bendigo has a proven track record in designing and building the iconic Bushmaster vehicle, which has saved the lives of Australian troops and other allied soldiers in some world’s most hostile zones of conflict.” Mr. Dalla-Riva said.
“As a result of the Commonwealth’s decision to source overseas the Land 121 Phase 3 vehicle program, it is now uncertain whether the Bushmaster vehicle will continue to be built in Bendigo beyond the end of 2012.”
Mr. Dalla-Riva said although he welcomed an additional Commonwealth announcement to fund the development at Thales Bendigo of prototypes for a new military vehicle under Land 121 Phase 4, he was concerned that any longer-term commitment to Thales Bendigo was heavily conditional.
“This offer is subject to contract negotiations and the successful completion of six prototype variants according to measures of ‘technical performance, cost and schedule commitments.’. The Commonwealth will not make a final decision on the contract to produce this vehicle until 2015.” Mr. Dalla-Riva said.
“While we note the Commonwealth also intends to commission from Thales Bendigo further maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrade work on the Bushmaster the Commonwealth commitment as a whole falls short of what is needed to provide long-term certainty and continuity to this important defence manufacturer and its skilled workforce.”
“It demonstrates that Labor MPs, state and federal, have been unable to convince their federal Cabinet colleagues to deliver fully on the promises made to Bendigo.”
“Today’s statement from the Commonwealth Defence Minister is disappointing overall, and represents an inadequate commitment to our local defence manufacturers.”
“The Victorian Government remains committed to supporting the growth of our local defence industry, especially in important regional centres.” Mr. Dalla-Riva said.
The defence industry contributes $1.5 Billion annually to the state’s economy, earning exports valued at $250 Million, and employing directly 7,000 Victorians. It is an industry governments at all levels should be working to encourage and support.