Ararat at heart of con­tract cam­paign

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Ararat’s chances of be­ing a ma­jor ben­e­fi­ciary of a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar mil­i­tary deal re­main in the bal­ance, with state lead­ers de­mand­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment award the con­tract to a Vic­to­rian bid.

The State Gov­ern­ment has put Ararat man­u­fac­turer AME Sys­tems ‘front and cen­tre’ in a re­newed cam­paign to win the con­tract to build next-gen­er­a­tion mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles.

Vic­to­ria is in part­ner­ship with BAE Sys­tems Aus­tralia, which has put for­ward an AMV-35 as­sault ve­hi­cle in a bid to win a $5-bil­lion LAND 400 project. LAND 400 is Aus­tralia’s largest land mil­i­tary-ve­hi­cle pro­cure­ment pro­gram.

If Vic­to­ria wins the con­tract, it is likely to cre­ate up to 2000 jobs, some of them with AME Sys­tems, a key sup­ply-chain com­pany in­volved in the bid.

A Vic­to­rian win would land AME Sys­tems a $20-mil­lion share of the deal and cre­ate at least 25 new jobs in Ararat.

AME Sys­tems would have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of man­u­fac­tur­ing elec­tri­cal ca­bles and har­nesses for 225 com­bat re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles, which would re­place the Aus­tralian light-ar­moured ve­hi­cle fleet.

Act­ing Trade and In­vest­ment Minister Ben Car­roll said a Vic­to­rian win would mean jobs for Ararat and a boost to the re­gional econ­omy.

“LAND 400 be­longs in Vic­to­ria. We have the proven work­force, the ex­per­tise and the sup­ply chain to get it done, and get it done well,” he said.

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Minister Jaala Pul­ford said LAND 400 was an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity for Ararat.

“It will cre­ate se­cure, well-paid jobs, boost the lo­cal econ­omy and en­trench the town’s stand­ing as a leader in ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing,” she said.

The State Gov­ern­ment has de­scribed Vic­to­ria as Aus­tralia’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing state, back­ing the claim with 12 con­sec­u­tive months of growth in man­u­fac­tur­ing – the longest run of ex­pan­sion since 2003 – de­spite the clo­sure of au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Vic­to­ria’s de­fence sec­tor is worth $8-bil­lion to the econ­omy ev­ery year and in­cludes about 20,000 work­ers and more than 400 busi­nesses.

Es­ti­mates are that if BAE Sys­tems won the LAND 400 con­tract, it would add close to $1-bil­lion to Vic­to­ria’s econ­omy and cre­ate up to 2000 man­u­fac­tur­ing and sup­ply-chain jobs.

The State Gov­ern­ment has also fired a shot across the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s bow, declar­ing the de­ci­sion should be based on the merit of the bid, not how many mar­ginal seats the con­tract might win for Prime Minister Mal­colm Turn­bull in Queens­land.

Strong sup­porter

But Fed­eral Mem­ber for Wan­non Dan Te­han said he was a strong sup­porter of the Vic­to­rian bid and AME Sys­tems’ role in the project.

“LAND 400 is one of the na­tional de­fence’s big­gest projects and bas­ing the project in Vic­to­ria would be fan­tas­tic for the state,” he said.

“LAND 400 would cre­ate 2000 jobs, give our ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor a sig­nif­i­cant boost and cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant sup­ply chain op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing at AME Sys­tems in Ararat.

“I have told De­fence In­dus­tries Minister Christo­pher Pyne that Vic­to­ria is the out­stand­ing can­di­date in the bid­ding process for LAND 400.”

Ararat Mayor Glenda Mclean said she wel­comed and was de­lighted with gov­ern­ment help in ef­forts to sup­port AME Sys­tems and the Ararat com­mu­nity.

“AME not only fu­els sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­try for Ararat but it is also renowned for its phil­an­thropic ap­proach to, and gen­er­ous sup­port of, the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“It ticks a lot of boxes for fed­eral and state gov­ern­ment projects that might not seem that ob­vi­ous on the sur­face.

“It is renowned for its cul­tural sen­si­bil­ity to­wards its em­ploy­ees. For ex­am­ple, apart from a sim­ple fi­nan­cial con­tract, if the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment came in be­hind the Vic­to­rian bid, it would be tick­ing sev­eral boxes, one of them be­ing the sup­port of cul­tural di­ver­sity.

“It is a key sup­porter and em­ployer of Ararat’s im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial Filipino com­mu­nity.

“As a coun­cil we are highly tuned into pro­mot­ing the ben­e­fits of a di­verse com­mu­nity and dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple are more than wel­come here.

“If the con­tract bid is suc­cess­ful, we’re keen to be in­volved in or drive any projects that en­cour­age a di­verse cul­tural mix of peo­ple and their fam­i­lies to our part of the world.

“This could only be ben­e­fi­cial, at so many lev­els, for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, so much so that we’re ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent ex­am­ples where this has worked for other coun­cils.”

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has short­listed BAE Sys­tems and Queens­land­based Rhein­metall for the con­tract.

The ex­pec­ta­tion is for the gov­ern­ment to an­nounce a win­ning bid in the first quar­ter of 2018.

AME Sys­tems has an over­all work­force of about 360, with sites in Bayswa­ter and Malaysia as well as its head­quar­ters and fac­tory in Ararat.

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