Fac­tory jobs ap­pear cer­tain

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY JARED LOUGHNAN

More than 640 jobs at Aus­tralian Mu­ni­tions Mul­wala and Be­nalla plants look cer­tain.

At the time of the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle go­ing to print Min­is­ter for De­fence In­dus­try Christo­pher Pyne an­nounced that De­fence will en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tions with Thales Aus­tralia for the con­tin­ued man­age­ment and op­er­a­tion of the two Aus­tralian mu­ni­tion fac­to­ries.

Mr Pyne said the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment recog­nises the im­por­tance of the De­fence owned mu­ni­tions fac­to­ries that pro­duce am­mu­ni­tion for the Aus­tralian De­fence Force.

“With both fa­cil­i­ties em­ploy­ing over 640 highly-skilled work­ers, this an­nounce­ment pro­vides cer­tainty for work­ers that both fac­to­ries will re­main open for the long term,” he said.

“Un­der the ex­ist­ing con­tract, em­ploy­ment across the Be­nalla and Mul­wala sites has in­creased by over 80 em­ploy­ees in 2017, gen­er­at­ing vi­tal job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“The Thales Aus­tralia sup­ply chain in­cludes 130 lo­cal small-to-medium en­ter­prises, pro­vid­ing a wide range of goods and ser­vices to the Be­nalla and Mul­wala sites.”

Sus­san Ley Mem­ber for Far­rer wel­comed the an­nounce­ment from Canberra on Tues­day.

“Sup­port for our de­fence in­dus­tries is a key pol­icy for our Gov­ern­ment,” Mrs Ley told the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle.

“To see this sup­port flow­ing through to the Mul­wala plant is a re­ally im­por­tant con­fi­dence booster for our re­gion.”

Ne­go­ti­a­tions with Thales would see a new strate­gic ar­range­ment for the man­age­ment and op­er­a­tion of the fac­to­ries, im­prov­ing price com­pet­i­tive­ness and in­creas­ing ex­port po­ten­tial for Aus­tralian-man­u­fac­tured am­mu­ni­tion and ex­plo­sive prod­ucts.

“This long-term, per­for­mance-based ar­range­ment will pro­vide a greater de­gree of cer­tainty for Thales as the prin­ci­pal tenant and op­er­a­tor of the fa­cil­i­ties and will en­able seam­less tran­si­tion from the cur­rent con­tract when it ex­pires in mid-2020,” Mr Pyne said.

“Draw­ing on the depth of en­gi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing skills res­i­dent in these fac­to­ries, the de­ci­sion to com­mence ne­go­ti­a­tions with Thales builds on the well-es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ship be­tween Thales and De­fence.

“This an­nounce­ment en­ables De­fence to con­tinue to cap­i­talise on the more than $1.8 bil­lion in in­vest­ment it has made since the mid-1990s.

“The 1030 hectare Mul­wala fac­tory is the only re­main­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing site for pro­pel­lants and high ex­plo­sives in Aus­tralia, and the new pro­pel­lant fac­tory is ar­guably the most mod­ern pro­pel­lant man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in the world.”

The fu­ture ar­range­ment would also see un­der­utilised ar­eas of the fa­cil­i­ties sub-leased as ad­di­tional precincts to other mu­ni­tions com­pa­nies, sub­ject to main­tain­ing high safety and se­cu­rity stan­dards, ei­ther where De­fence iden­ti­fies a re­quire­ment for a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct, or where a com­mer­cial or ex­port op­por­tu­nity ex­ists.

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