As the LAND 400 Phase 2 project heads towards an announcement, the Victorian government is flying the flag for the state’s manufacturing sector, visiting one of the companies tapped to provide hydraulics and cooling system components for BAE Systems Australia’s bid.
Established in 1963, Victoria's Parker Hannifin Australia manufactures PVC hose, metal fittings, hydraulic cylinders, tube and hose assemblies. But this will not be the first Defence project the SME will contribute to should BAE secure the coveted LAND project. Parker Hannifin Australia is already delivering the cooling systems for 1,100 Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicles that will be built in Bendigo.
Victoria's Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis visited the company's Wodonga facility with member for Indi Cathy McGowan.
Minister Dalidakis said the project, which the state government is expecting to create up to 2,000 manufacturing and supply chain jobs in Victoria, is at risk of being overlooked by the federal government. Under the LAND 400 Phase 2 project, either BAE Systems or Rheinmetall will design, build and manufacture 225 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles. If Rheinmetall is selected to take on the project, Queensland will be the home of the manufacturing site.
"Victoria is the smart choice for LAND 400. We have the necessary skills, capabilities, experience and infrastructure to deliver high quality military vehicles," Minister Dalidakis said.
"This contract needs to be awarded with our defence sector’s best interests in mind rather than the Coalition’s political interests."
The state government is arguing the recent dumping of Victoria's federal MP Darren Chester as infrastructure minister in favour of Queensland's John McVeigh has put the LAND 400 Phase 2 project at risk of being jeopardised by political interests.
"The Andrews Labor government has grave fears that Malcolm Turnbull’s dumping of Victorian Nationals MP Darren Chester paves the way for Victoria to be frozen out of the vitally important LAND 400 Phase 2 defence contract," Minister Dalidakis said in December last year.
"The LAND 400 contract is crucial to our national interest and instead of being awarded on merit, it looks increasingly likely that it will go to Queensland as a naked pork barrelling exercise designed to help save Coalition seats at the next federal election."
Victoria's defence sector is estimated to be worth $8 billion to the local economy every year, and is made up of about 20,000 people and more than 400 businesses.
BAE Systems Australia is proposing the Finnish-designed Patria AMV35, while Rheinmetall is offering the Boxer CRV. Defence has completed its evaluation of the BAE Systems and Rheinmetall vehicles. The government is expected to announce its decision in the first half of this year.