Shadow Defence Minister Stephen Conroy has today praised the world-class manufacturing work being done in Bendigo on the Australian Defence Force's Bushmaster vehicles during a visit to Thales Australia with Labor Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters.
Thales Australia has produced hundreds of Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMVs) for the Australian Defence Force.
"This vehicle produced here in Bendigo has saved the lives of our diggers,"Senator Conroy said.
"While many Bushmasters have been hit by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, there have been no fatalities.
"The world-class work being done in Bendigo is being exported to the world, with Bushmasters being sent to Japan, the UK, and the Netherlands."
"Thales in Bendigo is now developing and testing the next generation of light PMVs - the Hawkei - that if selected as a replacement for the Army's Land Rovers will mean more jobs for Australia's defence manufacturing industry.
"What we don't want to see is the Abbott Government abandoning these jobs, like they have abandoned jobs in the Australian shipbuilding and automotive industries."
"Maintaining a heavy industrial base, including the skilled workers here in Bendigo, has important strategic implications for Australia that must not be allowed to wither and die."
Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters says Bendigo has proven itself when it comes to manufacturing capabilities that the ADF requires.
"The Bushmaster is a Bendigo success story," Ms Chesters said.
"If we get the chance to build the Hawkei here as well, I have no doubt we will see the same world-class results."
"Bendigo has a proud history of supporting our defence forces and we look forward to continuing that tradition when it comes to the Hawkei."