Celebrating defence links

BENDIGO'S defence history will be celebrated this week when a restored warship propeller blade made at the Thales site in the 1980s is unveiled.

The warship propeller blade will be be unveiled at the newly-refurbished Bendigo RSL at on Wednesday and will take pride of place in the building's foyer.

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the propeller was evidence of Bendigo’s long association with defence manufacturing.

"It's just wonderful that at the RSL, as you walk in, here a piece of equipment that's being manufactured here in Bendigo," she said.

"It speaks to the proud tradition that we have here in Bendigo of not only having men and women who serve our country but we also build the equipment that protects them while they're overseas, while they're on these missions, while they're working in our armed forces.

"It highlights that proud history we have here in Bendigo and it's a history we've had for generations.

It highlights that proud history we have here in Bendigo. - Lisa Chesters

"For a very long time we've had a defence manufacturing history that has built the equipment that our men and women have needed when they're overseas - whether that be a propeller blade or a Bushmaster - and there's always been a strong manufacturing culture here in Bendigo."

Ms Chesters said it was important for Bendigo's manufacturing industry to continue to build the equipment needed by the nation's armed forces.

"Right now we're building the Bushmaster and when that contract finished the plan is for Thales to build the Hawkei  which is commonly referred to as the son of Bushmaster," she said.

"It's important to Bendigo for jobs, it's important to ensure that we keep those skills in our community and it's important for the apprentices that we train at that facility."

Bendigo RSL president Cliff Richards said the propeller blade was an example of advanced engineering.

“Bendigo has produced equipment and vehicles for the Defence Department with skill and ingenuity for decades," he said.

“I know from my role the amount of people that have been employed at the Thales site, formally Australian Defence Industries and the Bendigo Ordnance Factory, over the years.

“It has been an important part of Bendigo’s manufacturing history.

“We hope Bendigo Thales continues to produce high-quality defence products long into the future.”

Earlier this year, Mr Richards hailed the Bendigo and District RSL $3.8 million redevelopment a success and said it was positive for veterans.

The interior and exterior of the Havilah Road building has been renovated and a memorabilia park developed. The RSL has also had concept plans drawn up for the military museum. 

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