The Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne visited military manufacturers in Bendigo this morning to announce the extension of a global supply agreements which he claimed had already facilitated contracts to 123 Australian companies totalling in excess of $785 million.
But the Labor federal member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, dismissed the visit as “laughable”, given the government’s recent decision to off-shore ADF dress uniforms to China, which she said had costs Bendigo jobs.
The minister said that the Department of Defence has signed contracts with Thales and Raytheon to maximise export opportunities for capable Australian companies.
“This is a globally unique program and ensures our very capable and innovative companies are provided with enduring opportunities across the land, maritime, electronic and aerospace domains,” Minister Pyne said.
“The recent signing of three year extensions to Agreements with Thales and Raytheon ensures opportunities for Australian industry remain a priority for these Defence Primes.
“The Primes also importantly provide mentoring, training and facilitate meetings between Australian companies and key decision makers in their organisation, reinforcing the contribution the Prime makes to supporting Australia’s defence industry. ”
Ms Chesters said that earlier this month the government had announced their decision to involve the use of "established sub-contractor arrangements" overseas for a $9 million contract awarded to Australian Defence Apparel (ADA) to produce the "non-combat clothing".
“We know that Liberal Minister likes to visit Bendigo Manufacturing facilities, ride in armoured vehicles and pose for photos with workers but they need to do better,” Ms Chesters said.
“Only a few weeks ago they made the decision to choose a cheaper, manufactured overseas option, as opposed to the high-quality Australian made option, and it has cost Bendigo manufacturing jobs.
“We want a Federal Government that will help secure defence manufacturing jobs in Bendigo now and into the future.
"Bendigo's ADA manufacturing facility has the capability to manufacture these uniforms for our Australian Defence Force men and women. Bendigo already manufactures the ADA combat uniforms.
"Most Australians would agree that their tax-paying dollars should be spent on defence materials manufactured in Australia, supporting local businesses and securing local jobs.”