MEMBER for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, says is not surprised at media reports that several countries are interested in purchasing Bendigo-manufactured Bushmasters.
“I am not surprised other countries are expressing an interest in Thales’ Bushmaster. It's a fantastic tick of approval,” Ms Chesters said.
“The Bushmaster is an outstanding vehicle with a proven track record of saving troops’ lives.
“It's the best in the world.
“The export success of the vehicle is testimony to the hard work of the engineering and design team in Bendigo, which work with the Australian Defence Force and more than 120 Australian companies in the Bushmaster supply chain.”
Ms Chesters said the fresh export orders will help keep the Bendigo production line open while the Australian Defence Force decides whether or not to order the Thales-built Hawkei or a foreign-built vehicle.
“These export contracts will secure jobs in the short-term. However, the $1 billion contract to manufacture 1300 Hawkei vehicles would secure the production line and jobs at the Bendigo Thales site for the next decade,” she said.
“Most Australians would agree that their tax-paying dollars should be spent on defence vehicles manufactured in Australia, supporting local businesses and securing local jobs.
“It does not make sense to build this vehicle, destined for the Australian armed force, overseas.”
Ms Chesters called on the Coalition Government to back the Bendigo Thales bid to manufacture the Hawkei.
“This is an opportunity for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Federal Coalition Government to do something positive for local manufacturing,” she said.
“I call on the Prime Minister to back the Thales’ contract and secure Australian jobs.”