Conroy calls for Abbott government to back Thales

SHADOW Defence Minister Stephen Conroy has called on the Abbott government to secure jobs at Thales in Bendigo.

Senator Conroy made the comments during an inspection of Thales with Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters on Wednesday.

"Thales in Bendigo is now developing and testing the next generation of light PMVs - the Hawkei - that if selected as a replacement for the Army's Land Rovers will mean more jobs for Australia's defence manufacturing industry,'' he said.

"What we don't want to see is the Abbott Government abandoning these jobs, like they have abandoned jobs in the Australian shipbuilding and automotive industries.

"Maintaining a heavy industrial base, including the skilled workers here in Bendigo has important strategic implications for Australia, which must not be allowed to wither and die."

Senator Conroy said the manufacturing work being done in Bendigo on the Australian Defence Force's Bushmaster vehicles was world class.

"This vehicle produced here in Bendigo has saved the lives our diggers," Senator Conroy said.

"While many Bushmasters have been hit by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, there have been no fatalities.

"The world-class work being done in Bendigo is being exported to the world, with Bushmasters being sold to Japan, the UK, and the Netherlands."

Ms Chesters said Bendigo had the manufacturing capabilities the ADF required.

"The Bushmaster is a Bendigo success story," Ms Chester's said.

"If we get the chance to build the Hawkei here as well, I have no doubt we will see the same world-class results."

"Bendigo has a proud history of supporting our defence forces and we look forward to continuing that tradition when it comes to the Hawkei.

"The project is on track. Next step is for the Abbott Liberal Government to commit in writing to the Hawkei project.''

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