The Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, has today declared the Federal Government's shock decision to knock Bendigo Thales out of the Land 400 tender process as very disappointing.
"This is a shocker of a decision by the new Minister for Defence Industries and the Turnbull Government and I question the timing. The 45th Parliament has not even been officially opened,” said Ms Chesters.
During a recent tour and briefing at the Bendigo Thales site, Ms Chesters was able to get up close to the next Bendigo Thales project the LAV (CRV). Bendigo Thales was vying for the Australian Defence Force Land 400 Phase 2 contract with this prototype vehicle.
“I'm shocked and disappointed.
“By dumping Bendigo Thales and their LAV (CRV) from the Land 400 tender process the Federal Liberal Government has potentially put at risk the security of existing jobs and missed an opportunity to create new jobs in the Bendigo defence manufacturing industry over the long term.
“Manufacturing the Land 400 at Thales Bendigo just makes a lot of sense as they already manufacture the Bushmasters and Hawkeis for the Australian Defence Force.
"On a very practical ADF personal and operational level, I am shocked the Federal Liberal Government would choose a vehicle that has a fundamentally different operating system to the ADF Hawkei and Bushmaster.
“Bendigo is Australia’s armoured vehicle manufacturing hub as well one of the world leaders in armoured defence vehicles manufacturing.
“Thales Bendigo has developed and tested first the Bushmaster and now the Hawkei. Both of these defence armoured vehicles are currently being manufactured at the facility for the Australian Defence Force.
"What's now happened is the new South Australian based Defence Industries Minister, Christopher Pyne has abandoned future Bendigo jobs in the defence manufacturing industry.
"I also question the timing of this announcement. Parliament is not due to be reopened for another month. New MPs are yet to be sworn in. Yet, the Liberal Government has made a significant announcement that fundamentally disadvantages Bendigo and regional Victorian Defence Manufacturing.
"The importance of locking in further defence armoured vehicle manufacturing contracts for Bendigo cannot be understated.
"At the local level, these contracts help to secure manufacturing jobs and many small to medium supply chain businesses.
“More broadly, maintaining a strong industrial base, including the skilled workers here in Bendigo, has important strategic implications for Australia, therefore we must not allow this industry to die,” said Ms Chesters.
In the coming weeks Ms Chesters said that she would seek urgent meetings with Bendigo Thales management, Department of Defence representatives and the Minister to discuss why and how this decision was made.
"Bendigo Thales, their workforce and the Bendigo community deserves answers. This decision is a shocker and I will do what I can to hold the Liberal Government to account,” said Ms Chesters.