Local, Independant and Effective
May 26, 2016

Boost for manufacturing in Benalla

A long-term contract between a major employer in Benalla and world leading explosives company has given regional manufacturing in Indi a boost.

Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, has met with Thales Vice President Kevin Wall to learn more about the contract to produce five million boosters per year. Ms McGowan has met regularly with Thales executives and staff since being elected to Parliament, and this was the latest briefing on the company’s developments and initiatives.

The boosters are small explosive devices that set off a lifting charge used extensively in mining and construction industries. The boosters will be produced at Benalla using explosives made at the Mulwala plant, and will replace imported products.

“Congratulations to Thales on the 10-year contract with major explosives manufacturer Orica,” Ms McGowan said. “The company has been proactive in seeking out commercial opportunities and is committed to building its business in the North East for the future. It’s pleasing to see an international leader in Orica show a high level of trust in the local Thales workforce to deliver this product.”

Thales will invest in a new filling plant at the Benalla factory. Ms McGowan said this was an innovative design to match the needs of producing the booster. Reliability, quality, price and security of supply were factors leading to Thales securing the contract.

“This will sustain up to 100 jobs at the two factories, and helps future-proof and upskill the workforce,” Ms McGowan said. “Thales is on track to deliver and when full production is reached, five million boosters will be produced each year. There is also a flow-on effect to other Australian component suppliers getting increased orders.

The Defence White Paper included a Defence Industry Policy Statement (DIPS). Ms McGowan said the Government’s commitment to defence would create optimism in the defence manufacturing sector.

“The fact the DIPS has been produced gives confidence to local manufacturers. The Government has told industry what it wants to achieve and this will allow manufacturers to plan for the future,” she said.

Ms McGowan also spoke with Mr Wall about the possibility of skill-sharing across industries in Indi to expand the knowledge and skills base at middle-management level.

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