Bendigo businesses could cash-in on shipbuilding as government spends billions

The design for Austal's fleet of Pacific patrol boats. Image: Austal

The design for Austal's fleet of Pacific patrol boats. Image: Austal

BENDIGO manufacturers could be among those to cash-in on a $3 billion contract to build 14 patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy.

Representatives from shipbuilder Austal held an information session at The Capital in Bendigo on Wednesday where they spoke with about 10 local manufacturers about opportunities that exist now, and in the coming decades.

Austal won the contract last year to build the Pacific patrol boats to replace the current fleet.

While the ships themselves will be built in Adelaide and Western Australia, they will rely on material from across Australia.

Austal vice president defence Davyd Thomas said the company was committed to increasing its Australian content.

“This is a national endeavor and there are opportunities in every part of Australia, including the regions, to be part of Austal’s global supply chain,” he said.

“As the country’s largest defence exporter we look forward to working with Bendigo companies as we continue to grow our operations in Australia and overseas.”

The federal government has committed a total of $98 billion for the next generation of the Navy’s patrol fleet.

Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said there was an opportunity for Bendigo to expand its existing strong ties with defence manufacturing – demonstrated by Thales’ successful Hawkei and Bushmaster projects.

“We regularly hear about shipbuilding announcements for South Australia and Western Australia, but the majority of the material for these projects come from the east coast,” she said.

“It was great to see a lot of local businesses attend the meeting.

“This contract is only a small fraction of the total spend in the coming decades. A region like Bendigo needs to grasp this opportunity.”

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