01 March 2015

Andrews Government must act on LAND 400

Today I call on the Victorian Government to get its act together on the multi-billion dollar Land 400 defence project.

With the tender for Land 400 now open, Victoria is lagging behind and needs to immediately announce a package of incentives to bring a large slice of this vital project to Geelong.

Premier Andrews must get on the front foot and start fighting for these jobs, and the incredible opportunities that Land 400 would bring to our region.

The South Australian Government is offering an estimated $100 million in manufacturing infrastructure, support and other incentives.

In contrast, since the tender was announced by our government on 19 February 2015, we have not seen or heard anything from State Labor on this project.

International defence companies have only four months to put together their tender response. Time is critical. A full scale industry briefing will be conducted by the Defence Materiel Organisation on 11 March 2015.

By now, the Victorian Government should have opened the defence procurement office it promised for Geelong. It should have also announced the very best incentive package. This might include offering financial incentives for every job created, payroll and other tax concessions, fast tracking of planning approvals, the provision of manufacturing infrastructure and a Land 400 regional headquarters.

At the Avalon Airshow, I held discussions with key international defence companies as part of my efforts to push Geelong’s Land 400 credentials. Concerns have been raised with me that the Andrews Government is not being proactive in delivering the necessary incentives to ensure Geelong, and Victoria more broadly, is properly positioned to win a slice of this major contract.

In contrast to South Australia, our region offers many existing manufacturing facilities which could be re-purposed for part of the manufacture, assembly and maintenance of the 225 armoured fighting vehicles which will be delivered under the Land 400 contract.

With Deakin University, the Geelong Port, Avalon Airport, the Point Wilson defence facility and existing roads and rail freight infrastructure, our region has so much to offer. We also have the advanced manufacturing skills and capability.

Our government is extremely focused on the opportunities that Land 400 will deliver to Australian industry. Australian companies have the opportunity to play a vital role in this project including in relation to component and parts supply; integration of Australian communications, sensor and weapons systems; engineering and testing; facilities; and vehicle sustainment and logistics.

Immediately after being elected, Premier Daniel Andrews said he would “waste no time” in establishing a defence procurement office in Geelong (as reported in Geelong Advertiser, 1 December 2014). He also committed to form an alliance with New South Wales and South Australia to ensure the bulk of all defence work comes to these states.

Each and every day, I am fighting for jobs for Geelong and Corangamite. Premier Andrews is wasting vital time and needs to start fighting for Land 400 jobs with all the determination and commitment that his government can muster.

1 March 2015