TALKS about replacing 20 Bendigo-built Bushmasters appear to be slow-going, if they have started, one month after one month after Ukraine first requested them.
Defence minister Peter Dutton left the door open to potential replacements at a photo opportunity in Queensland three weeks ago, the day he confirmed the first three armoured personnel carriers were being flown out.
"We can work with Thales to replace these that have been sent away," he said at the time.
The Bendigo Advertiser approached Defence and Mr Dutton for comment, but was referred back to comments from his interview three weeks ago.
"In our fleet we have about 1000 Bushmasters and we can work with Thales to replace these that are being sent away, so there's no impact on our operational needs or requirements," the minister said at the time.
"It's just fortuitous that we had a number that we could get quickly painted and dispatched."
Bendigo opposition MP Lisa Chesters has renewed calls for a contract she says could help avert any workflow issues as Thales Australia finishes off other contracts at its North Bendigo factory.
An open question remains about exactly how much support Ukraine might need as sweeping battles continue for control of its eastern regions.
Ukraine's ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko warned more help would be needed in an address to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last Tuesday.
"We are there in the trenches for you people, because ... the consequences we're going to see will be enormous, that [Vladimir Putin] can take another country by force," he said, according to Australian Associated Press.
"This is going to create a domino effect all over the world, including here in the Indo-Pacific."
Australia pledged another six lightweight howitzer cannons and ammunition pledged on Wednesday, bringing Australia's military assistance to $225 million.
The Bushmaster donation accounted for about $50 million of that.
Defence flew the first three vehicles to Europe three weeks ago but has not disclosed details about the rest, citing requests for secrecy from Australia's military partners.
Australia's decision to donate Bushmasters has come during an election fought on national security issues.
Both parties have warned voters decisions need to be made on how Australia should respond to both Russia's aggression and an increasingly assertive China.
The election caretaker mode is now in effect and the Bendigo Advertiser has reached out to Mr Dutton to see if that has influenced any potential contract discussions.
Ms Chesters said she was yet to open discussions within the Labor party about any attempt to backfill the donated Bushmasters.
"I have not had those discussions with Labor," she said.
"If we are in a position to form government, come the 21st of May, it's something that I will be talking to our defence minister about, and our defence materials team."
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