Mayor Andrew Antoniolli has described the $5 billion Defence contract as the biggest news for Ipswich since Queensland Rail came to town more than 150 years ago.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was at Gallipoli Barracks Enoggera today to announce the massive Land 400 armoured vehicle deal with Rheinmetall Defence Australia.
Rheinmetall will set up at military vehicle centre of excellence (MILVEHCOE) at Redbank to build 211 combat reconnaissance vehicles, known as the Boxer CRV, for the Australian Army.
Cr Antoniolli said it was significant boost for Ipswich as it would create more than 330 permanent jobs from the outset, significant opportunities for locals businesses and associated work with ongoing delivery and maintenance of the vehicles.
“This is huge for Ipswich, make no mistake. This means jobs for the next 30 to 40 years, for the life of the contract,” he said.
“I believe this is the best thing that has happened to Ipswich since Queensland Rail built the first railway line and railway workshops in Ipswich in 1865.”
Cr Antoniolli said the Defence footprint in Ipswich continued to grow with the latest announcement. Defence directly contributed to more than 7000 jobs and almost $800 million to the Ipswich economy in 2016-17.
“Defence is a key industry for the City of Ipswich. The region hosts Australia’s largest operational Air Force Base, Amberley, with substantial space for development to accommodate further Defence activity.
“Defence’s presence and activity in Ipswich stimulates economic activity across defence industries in the region and state, and across other industries along the supply chain.”
Cr Antoniolli and council’s Office of Economic Development were instrumental in attracting Rheinmetall to Ipswich as they met officials of the German-owned company at North Ipswich Reserve in September, 2017.
The mayor got to “test drive” one of the multi-million-dollar Boxer CRVs as Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart confirmed that Ipswich would be the base where it would design, manufacture and maintain the armoured vehicles if it won the Federal Government contract.
Mr Stewart said the Ipswich hub would also be used to fulfil global defence contracts. The next stage of the Land 400 contract would see Australia supplying the vehicles to overseas Defence forces.
“This project directly benefits the Ipswich defence industry to work with Rheinmetall and enhance its capability to be defence export ready,” Cr Antoniolli said.
“The Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence, where the state-of-the-art combat vehicles will be built, will further contribute to training, testing and up-skilling towards a highly skilled manufacturing workforce for the region.”
Economic Development and Digital City Committee chair Cr Paul Tully said the announcement from Mr Turnbull was another feather in the cap for Ipswich in terms of jobs creation in the city.
Ipswich has been able to announce the arrival of US retail giant Costco, with its huge warehouse in Bundamba bringing 330 full and part-time jobs; a $120 million expansion to Ipswich Hospital; and the commencement of work on the once-in-a-generation redevelopment of Ipswich Central.
“We have well and truly turned the corner with so many positive signs that Ipswich is on the rise. We have a jobs boom, a building and investment boom, and growth right across the entire region,” Cr Tully said.
“The Rheinmetall contract definitely puts Ipswich on the national and global stage. We will be building and servicing military vehicles for defence forces around the world, meaning not just Ipswich but the whole country will benefit from its investment.
“It is a proud day for Ipswich and another important step as we continue our bright future to becoming a smart, innovative and progressive city on so many fronts.”