Warren King, acting CEO of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), last night confirmed to Senator Bridget McKenzie, Nationals Senator for Victoria, that the long delayed decision on Defence’s LAND 121 Phase 4 program will not be made before 2012.
During last night’s supplementary Senate Estimates hearings, Mr King responded to a question from Senator McKenzie on the timeframe for the program, saying that DMO was ‘very close to a final recommendation’.
However, when asked if a decision could be expected before Christmas, Mr King visibly scoffed, responding simply, ‘no’.
Senator McKenzie was taken aback at Mr King’s comments, saying outside the hearing:
“DMO’s attitude brings cold comfort to workers at Bendigo-based defence contractor Thales, who have been hoping for an outcome after lengthy delays in the decision making process.
“Christmas is more than two months away – and yet Mr King tells us a decision is, ‘very close.’
“What sort of a Christmas can Thales’s workers expect when faced with such uncertainty?”
“News of these further delays will also be unwelcome to our soldiers currently in extreme conditions on deployment around the globe, anxious for word on new state of the art vehicles,” Senator McKenzie said.
Senator McKenzie then questioned the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator the Hon David Feeney, on the impact of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of additional requirements for Australian manufacturers to be considered in the awarding of government contracts.
“The Minister last night shied away from commenting on his own government’s policy announcement,” Senator McKenzie said.
“He claimed that the final LAND 121 Phase 4 decision will be influenced by the national interest.
“Surely it is in the national interest to provide certainty to our skilled manufacturing workers.”