Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, is today calling on Kevin Andrews, the new Minster for Defence, to make the signing of the Hawkei Contract his first act.
Thales in Bendigo has developed and tested the next generation of light PMVs - the Hawkei. By selecting the Hawkei as the replacement for the Army's Land Rovers, the Abbott government has the opportunity to secure existing jobs and create new jobs in Australia's defence manufacturing industry.
"What we don't want to see is the Abbott Government abandon these jobs, like they have abandoned jobs in the Australian shipbuilding industry."
"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."
Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters says Bendigo has proven itself when it comes to providing the equipment the ADF requires.
"The Bushmaster is a Bendigo success story and proof that we can provide the ADF with the armoured vehicles they need," Ms Chesters said.
“I am concerned that the Abbott Government is taking too long to make a decision on Hawkei.
“I fear that further delays may risk the shutdown of our Bendigo Thales manufacturing facility.
“My understanding is that a contract to manufacture the Hawkei needs to be signed in the first quarter of 2015 in order to ensure the sustainability of the facility.
“If the contract is signed on time it will allow a smooth transition with the last Bushmaster rolling off the production line followed by the first Hawkei.
“That’s why I am calling on the new Minister to act now and sign this contact as soon as possible.
“We need the Department of Defence contract for 1300 Hawkei combat vehicles, under project LAND 121 Phase 4, to ensure that defence manufacturing continues in Bendigo well into the future.
“The importance of the Hawkei defence contract to Bendigo cannot be understated.
“I call on the new Minister of Defence, Mr. Kevin Andrews to commit today to signing the Hawkei contact in the first quarter of 2015.” Ms Chesters said.