Ararat chance in deal

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Ararat re­mains in the hunt to ben­e­fit from a multi-bil­lion­dol­lar mil­i­tary-ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment pro­gram de­spite a Vic­to­rian bid fail­ing to win the con­tract.

A proven track record in prod­uct qual­ity and sup­ply and well-es­tab­lished busi­ness links means Ararat elec­tri­cal wiring man­u­fac­turer AME Sys­tems might still win a sig­nif­i­cant share of the deal.

But in­stead of be­ing guar­an­teed a con­tract val­ued be­tween $15-mil­lion and $40-mil­lion as part of a Vic­to­rian bid, AME Sys­tems will now need to present fresh ten­ders to be part of the project.

AME Sys­tems was one of many firms in­volved in a Vic­to­rian BAE Sys­tems bid to sup­ply the Com­mon­wealth with 225 new mil­i­tary as­sault ve­hi­cles as part of a $5-bil­lion LAND 400 Phase 2 project.

But the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment de­cided to award the con­tract to a Queens­land­based bid led by global de­fence man­u­fac­turer Rhein­metall, a move that prompted a sav­age re­sponse by a dis­ap­pointed Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment.

AME Sys­tems gen­eral man­ager Nick Carthew con­firmed his firm had won a list­ing as a com­pany with an op­por­tu­nity to ten­der for con­tract work.

“We’re not out of the run­ning – not by a long shot,” he said.

“There is still a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity to se­cure a win for Ararat.

“While our bid with BAE was un­suc­cess­ful, we have strong re­la­tion­ships with both Su­pacat and Rhein­metall and western Victoria could yet be a sig­nif­i­cant win­ner.

“I have al­ready had promis­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rhein­metall re­gard­ing the project.”

Su­pacat, a global provider of de­fence-fo­cused prod­ucts and ser­vices, is part of the Rhein­metall LAND 400 bid and has al­ready col­lab­o­rated with AME Sys­tems on other de­fenceve­hi­cle projects.

Mr Carthew said it was im­por­tant, dur­ing the next few weeks in par­tic­u­lar, that the State Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to lobby for Victoria’s small to medium en­ter­prises.

“That of course, in­cludes us. We’re still in the hunt and we need the state to con­tinue to go into bat for us and regional Victoria at a fed­eral level,” he said.

“We might be in a sit­u­a­tion where cir­cum­stances for Ararat might be just as good with a new deal.

“But noth­ing is guar­an­teed. What we know is that we have an op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved as a skilled sup­plier to the de­fence force in our own right.”

Mr Carthew said it would be sev­eral months be­fore AME Sys­tems knew whether it re­mained in con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions.

He added the level of fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit based on a role of AME Sys­tems in a new deal was un­known.

“We’ve been work­ing on this for three-and-a-half years and have been to coun­tries such as Ger­many, Fin­land and Swe­den as part of the project. It’s a dif­fi­cult game to play,” he said.

“But if we do man­age to get a share, all the work we do will hap­pen in Ararat.”

The State Gov­ern­ment, on hear­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s LAND 400 con­tract de­ci­sion last week, de­scribed it as a be­trayal.

State In­dus­try and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Ben Car­roll said the de­ci­sion de­nied Victoria of al­most $1-bil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and more than 2000 jobs.

“This is a dis­grace­ful de­ci­sion based on the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and his des­per­a­tion to cling to mar­ginal seats in Queens­land, not the na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est of our coun­try,” he said.

But Fed­eral Mem­ber for Wan­non Dan Te­han, also re­spond­ing to the de­ci­sion, said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would still spend more than $630-mil­lion in Victoria and cre­ate about 170 jobs in the state.

“Vic­to­rian com­pa­nies such as AME Sys­tems, AW Bell, CAS, Cablex, Su­pacat and Tec­ton­ica will ben­e­fit from the project,” he said.

“This project is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for the Vic­to­rian in­dus­try to play a vi­tal role in de­liv­er­ing lead­ing-edge tech­nol­ogy to Aus­tralia’s Army.”

AME Sys­tems is busy, with Mr Carthew re­it­er­at­ing that the man­u­fac­turer still needed about 50 more em­ploy­ees to ser­vice ex­ist­ing projects.

He said the firm em­ployed a work­force of just un­der 400, with more than 320 based in Ararat.

AME Sys­tems’ work­force is made up of a broad cross-sec­tion of em­ploy­ees from elec­tri­cal engi­neers and draft­ing tech­ni­cians to op­er­a­tions, qual­ity-as­sur­ance and man­age­ment staff.

The ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cle now at the cen­tre of the Land 400 Phase 2 De­part­ment of De­fence con­tract is Rhein­metall De­fence Aus­tralia’s Boxer 8x8 Com­bat Re­con­nais­sance Ve­hi­cle.

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