Local member seeks more army vehicle work for Thales in Bendigo

The federal Member for Bendigo has started to push for more
work on the Hawkei military vehicle to be awarded to Thales Australia in
Bendigo.

The ABC reports that Labor member Lisa Chesters wrote to
recently-appointed Defence Minister Kevin Andrews in an attempt to secure more
work on the vehicles for the central Victorian town.

“I’m hoping that Bendigo Thales and the Hawkei project
doesn’t join that very long list of ‘we don’t know’,” Chesters said.

“It’s not fair … [for] those workers and their
families that they’re sitting waiting for a Minister to make a decision about
whether or not they’d buy Australian made defence manufactured vehicles.”

Chester is hoping that the decision will be made soon after Parliament
resumes.

“I believe we should spend those Australian taxpayer
dollars on buying equipment for our defence personnel made here in this country,”
she added.

Thales is also expected to bid to make combat-reconnaissance trucks as well armoured troop transports for its Land 400 project.

This tender was planned to begin in mid-January, however
there are suggestions it may be delayed because Andrews has yet to fully familiarise
himself with the defence portfolio.

He was named Defence Minister just before Christmas. In
contrast to the previous Minister David Johnston, Andrews has little experience
with defence matters.

And, according to Executive Director of the Australian Defence
Association Neil James, he previously remarked that he had “no interest” in defence issues.

Image : Thales Australia