Ipswich could secure another major Defence contract with Redbank-based Rheinmetall Australia in the running to win a contract to build 450 infantry fighting vehicles.
Rheinmetall has already won a $5 billion Federal Government contract to build a new generation of vehicles for the Australian Army, including 210 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles.
Rheinmetall’s choice of Ipswich to base their Asia-Pacific Headquarters and Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE), with the support of the Queensland Government and Ipswich City Council, establishes the city as a new hub for defence manufacturing.
The Boxer deal will see 1,400 jobs created and a flow-on affect for defence-related small businesses in the region.
But that is just the start with Rheinmetall also committing to build the 450 infantry fighting vehicles and 17 manoeuvre support vehicles at the Redbank headquarters. That contract is expected to be announced by Canberra in October 2019.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price visited Ipswich this week and checked out progress at MILVEHCOE.
Mr Morrison said the Land 400 Phase 3 contract was an “independent tender process” and would undergo the same rigorous checks and balances as Phase 2.
As for the timeframe … “well, we’ll be working on it over the next little while”.
The PM was full of praise for Rheinmetall and work to date in Ipswich.
“This is a very exciting project at a whole range of levels,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australia does its own heavy lifting when it comes to Defence. We’re committed to 2 per cent of GDP to ensure that our Defence Forces have the capability to do the job that we ask them to do.
“And that is to be present in theatres all around the world, in all manner of challenges and those challenges often are involved in providing humanitarian assistance and support in response to some of the world’s worst disasters and that can be here in our own country and it can be overseas and making sure that our Defence Forces have that capability and that Australia is standing on its own two feet and living up to all of the things that we wish to as a country.
“There are 1,400 jobs as part of this project and those jobs aren’t just here, as in Queensland, they’re right around the country as part of an integrated supply chain.
“Our defence industry investments are creating jobs all around the country and providing a future for manufacturing here in Australia.
“Future jobs, future training, future apprenticeships, learning from around the world and bringing those skills and those technologies here to Australia and so they can be applied in so many other different manufacturing challenges that companies are engaged in, whether it’s here in Queensland or through the supply chain.”
Mr Morrison said he met one new Rheinmetall staff member on site who was from Ipswich and had been working in the food processing industry and had changed to defence.
“That’s what this defence industry program is all about. It’s about building capability of our defence forces, creating jobs, developing skills, providing new training opportunities, getting more apprentices on the grounds, providing a future for our manufacturing industries right across the country,” he said.
“It is about getting on with the job, $200 billion being invested in our Defence capabilities over the next decade and beyond, well beyond, and that will ensure not just that capability now but into the future, not just those jobs now but those jobs and sustainment well into the future once the build process has been done.
“It’s a very exciting part of our Defence procurement program and our defence industries program and we look forward to its continued rollout.
“There will be challenges ahead and I have no doubt the partnership between the Australian Government and Rheinmetall in particular here, and Penske and others will work closely to ensure we meet all those challenges and we show the rest of the world just how well we can do this and that will create export industries for Australia with the various sorts of vehicles that we’ll see manufactured here in Queensland, in Brisbane, and we look forward to that taking place in the many years to come.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for State Development Cameron Dick were also expected to visit the Rheinmetall site this week.