Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters has denounced the Federal Liberal Government for their mismanagement of the Hawkei contract at Thales in Bendigo.
It’s now confirmed that workers at the defence manufacturer have been advised of a shutdown period from 8 April to 26 April, due to an issue with engine supply from Austrian manufacturer, Steyr.
During the shutdown, workers have been told to take annual leave or if they don’t have enough accrued, to take leave without pay, go into a negative leave balance or use long service leave.
“This is a disaster and could have been avoided if the Federal Government had insisted on more local content,” Chesters said.
“If these engines where made in Australia, the Federal Government could have intervened and helped to resolve the situation sooner or at the very least, ensured that Thales managed the role out of this $1.6 billion contract better.”
“This contract was awarded back in October 2015. What has the LNP Government been doing?”
“I am really disappointed but not surprised. We have had four Liberal Defence Ministers in six years, is it any wonder they’ve stuffed up the role out of this contract?”
“It’s just disgraceful that local workers are being punished for a mistake that is not of their own making.”
“It’s disappointing that local workers will be forced to take leave because of the incompetency from the Liberal Government - they need to be held accountable.”
“Whilst some workers have long service and annual leave entitlement they can use during this period, some of the newer staff who have been engaged to work on the Hawkei project do not,” Chesters said.
“These workers have families. They have bills to pay and food to put on the table. What would you do if you were told you would be paid for a whole month?”
“I’m appalled that the Government has not stepped in to help keep local workers in jobs, they should be working to prevent any forced stand downs without pay, but with 5 Defence Ministers in 6 years it’s not surprising this has been overlooked.”
“Defence manufacturing in Bendigo certainly has a proud history and, we hope, a promising and successful future,” Chesters said.
"Bendigo Thales, their workforce and the Bendigo community deserve answers. We need a Defence Minister and a Government that commitment to Defence manufacturing.”