Defence contract loss costs dozens of potential jobs in Ararat

New defence force armoured combat vehicles will be built in Queensland after Victoria lost a bidding war.
New defence force armoured combat vehicles will be built in Queensland after Victoria lost a bidding war.

DOZENS of potential jobs earmarked for Ararat are set to be scrapped after the Federal Government awarded a $5.2 billion defence contract to Queensland.

The Victorian Government had campaigned hard for the lucrative Land 400 contract to replace the Army’s ageing fleet of 200 armoured combat ­vehicles.

But the contract was yesterday awarded to German company Rheinmetall, which will base itself in Queensland.

It means Australia’s armed forces will adopt the Boxer CRV, made in Queensland, rather than BAE Systems’ 30-tonne, eight-wheel-drive AMV35 armoured vehicle, which would have been made in Victoria.

Ararat’s AME Systems was in line to fulfil a $20-million subcontract for electrical wiring harnesses that could have delivered dozens of jobs to the region if Victoria’s bid was successful

State Industry and Employment Minister Ben Carroll said he “could not express his disappointment more” at the decision.

He said he would be campaigning for workers in Ararat to gain some of the 170 jobs earmarked for Victoria for parts of the project.

“We have a proven track record over three decades working in the defense sector in what is an $8 billion industry in this state. Queensland is literally going to start building its defence industry today,”

Victorian Industry Minister Ben Carroll

“Our Land 400 bid to build 225 reconnaissance vehicles was second to none,” Mr Carroll said. 

“We have a unique supply chain of 400 defence businesses right throughout Victoria supporting 20,000 workers

“Today’s decision by the Turnbull Government show’s that Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities are marginal seats in Queensland.”

Mr Carroll said Victoria was ready to go with BAE, but is willing to work with successful tender Rheinmetall to see some jobs in Victoria. 

“We have a proven track record over three decades working in the defense sector in what is an $8 billion industry in this state. Queensland is literally going to start building its defence industry today,” he said.

“We welcome the 170 jobs that are expected to be created in Victoria, but we wanted that to be in the thousands. We will be campaigning very hard for those jobs to be in Ararat and Geelong.” 

AME Systems managing director Nick Carthew said he could not provide much more on the tender process.

“It’s great news for Australia and for Australian industry but it is unfortunate for Victoria that we did not have the basis in Melbourne,” Mr Carthew said

“However, there is still an opportunity for us in supplying Rheinmetall.”