The Gillard Government’s failure to address a production gap in its contracts with Thales has delivered a jobs blow to Bendigo, The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said today.
“The Bendigo community was assured the Gillard Government would work with the company to secure jobs and maintain ‘critical skills’ but the talks Labor MP Steve Gibbons promised in December have amounted to nothing,” Senator McKenzie said following Thales announcement that 50 jobs would be cut.
“The Coalition has consistently highlighted issues around the Defence Material Organisation and called for improved certainty for manufacturers in the sector.
“I feel a great deal of sympathy for the 50 workers who have to go home tonight and tell their families they are out of work.
“This is a direct result of the decision taken under Labor to overlook the Thales Bushmaster Ute and award our Defence Land 121 Phase 3 contract to German firm Rheinmetall MAN.
“The Gillard Government’s plan for jobs seems to be to send them overseas.”
Senator McKenzie said Thales would want to maintain a core capability of manufacturing skills and experience in Bendigo in preparation for the Hawkei rollout in 2016.
“Having visited Thales’s Bendigo plant and seen the Bushmaster and Hawkei firsthand, I have confidence in the ability of Thales to build vehicles that ensure the safety of our troops deployed overseas.”
A member of the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Senate Committee, Senator McKenzie said the lack of leadership and vision demonstrated by the Gillard Government was hurting regional Australians.