Continuing Defence industry growth in Indi
Posted February 07, 2018
Cathy has asked the Minister for Defence Industry about the Government's commitment to continued Defence Industry growth in Indi
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:26): My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. Minister, I really welcome your announcement that Defence is entering negotiations with Thales Australia for the continued operation of the factories in Benalla and Mulwala. This provides certainty to 640 workers at Thales and a supply chain of 130 small to medium enterprises. Minister, will you please commit to continuing support of the growth of the existing defence industry in Indi, including the BAE Systems' bid for Land 400?
Mr PYNE (Sturt—Leader of the House and Minister for Defence Industry) (14:26): I say at the outset that it's a nice try from the member for Indi to get me to talk about a tender, which is close to completion, for the Land 400 project, which is the combat reconnaissance vehicle project worth about $4 billion to $5 billion to the Australian economy over time. I will avoid breaking the tender, particularly at this late stage. But, in terms of the very good announcement that we've made in the last 24 hours about the munitions factories at Benalla and Mulwala, I'm sure that the member for Farrer would also have liked to have had the opportunity to ask this question because Benalla and Mulwala of course cross the electorates of Indi and Farrer.
It's a very important announcement. It secures 640 jobs for people in regional Victoria and New South Wales and, as you said in your question, 130 businesses across the supply chain. It's a success story in defence industry because many years ago the munitions factories were looking down the barrel, quite frankly—pardon the pun—because of the ancient nature of some of their facilities. We've invested in the manufacturing facilities in your electorate and in the member for Farrer's electorate and now the munitions factories there are the most modern in the world. They are about 1,050 hectares. They create propellants and explosives, which they export now to 17 different countries around the world, as well as providing the Australian defence requirements. They are a success story. Rather than waiting until 2019-20 to start negotiations with Thales Australia for the next five-year contract, or however long that contract might be, we wanted to give certainty to the families of the highly skilled workers in Benalla and Mulwala to be able to make decisions about their futures, so they are able to make their own decisions about their future and their family's future.
It's very good. It also indicates that the government's $200 billion investment in the military capability of our defence forces is really starting to pay significant dividends. We need to have our own sovereign capabilities in terms of propellants and explosives. We want to see that being able to be exported to our friends and allies around the world. The defence industry policy of the government, working with the defence export strategy that the Prime Minister and I announced late in January this year, is starting to see dividends for workers and businesses on the ground. So it's good news for both the electorates of Farrer and Indi. I wish the negotiations the very best. I'm sure they'll end up ensuring that those jobs will stay in place in the future and that the highly technical, sophisticated workers who have their livelihoods in defence industry will continue to do so.