The “Team Queensland” MPs and Senators lobbying for Defence Force super tanks to be built in Queensland have today won valuable ground in the battle against Victoria.
Federal Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien welcomed the announcement that one of the two companies vying for the record multi-billion dollar Land 400 army contract to build combat reconnaissance vehicles will establish itself in South East Queensland should it secure the tender.
Military supplier Rheinmetall Defence today confirmed that it would locate its manufacturing and maintenance of any Land 400 vehicles in Queensland and not Victoria.
“Rheinmetall’s decision has guaranteed that the full force of Team Queensland’s 26 Federal MPs and Senators are locked-in behind their bid and are ready to fight on their behalf in Canberra,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Team Queensland has been proactively pursuing this Land 400 deal since late last year. Not only have we been engaging both Rheinmetall and BAE, but we’ve also been lobbying the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Industries.”
If victorious, the German defence giant will also establish a headquarters and Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Queensland for the ongoing design, building and support of military vehicles to feed its global supply chain.
Member for Ryan Jane Prentice said the Land 400 contract to build about 650 state-of-the-art war machines in two phases, costing up to $20 billion, was the biggest and most expensive acquisition project in the Army’s history and would be a massive injection into the Queensland economy.
“This project is not just about the main contract but importantly the flow-on jobs and opportunities for other businesses,” said Mrs Prentice.
Building the cutting edge defence vehicles in the Sunshine State could kick-start a defence industry boom, creating thousands of local jobs and ensuring Queensland manufacturers benefit from supply chain and maintenance work for 30 years.
“I welcome the announcement by Rheinmetall that they are committed to Queensland. I will continue to campaign with my Queensland colleagues for the Land 400 project to be based here,” she said.
Member for Fadden Stuart Robert, who attended today’s announcement with Team Queensland colleagues Jane Prentice and Trevor Evans agreed.
“The Queensland Government and the Federal parliamentary team of LNP MPs has delivered the compelling case for Rheinmetall to base their bid in Queensland. This is a great result,” said Mr Robert.
“The LNP block is a formidable team that today’s result demonstrates and we will continue to lobby the Federal Government to ensure this project is awarded to Queensland.
“We will not relent in our enthusiasm and our activism to win defence work for Queensland to deliver the jobs and growth we need in our State.”
But Team Queensland’s road to victory has a long way to go yet as Ted O’Brien explained.
“Convincing Rheinmetall to build the army fleet in Queensland was only the first step in our campaign,” said Mr O’Brien.
“We now face two possible scenarios – either BAE also chooses Queensland guaranteeing the project is based here or BAE chooses Victoria resulting in a battle of the states.
“We are continuing to engage BAE in the hope they also choose Queensland, but if they choose Victoria rest assured Team Queensland is up for the fight,” he said.
“We are determined and unashamed in wanting to push the economic interests of Queensland ahead of other states.
“Nowhere in Australia has more heavy vehicle manufacturing experience and expertise than Queensland.
“Add an existing cluster of high-end manufacturers, defence industry suppliers and first class engineering and mechanical talent, and you have the fundamentals already in place for building a Land 400 supply chain.”
The Land 400 Phase 2 project is set to modernise the Army’s armoured vehicle fleet with 225 new Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) that can neutralise enemy armour, pin down enemy forces with suppressive fires and prevent an enemy’s ability to manoeuvre.
Phase 3 involves 450 new tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV).
Rheinmetall and BAE were short listed for Phase 2 and their vehicles are being extensively tested, with the results used by Defence to undertake a final evaluation of each tender’s proposal.
Rheinmetall is pushing its Boxer CRV super tank which is designed for the highest levels of troop protection against all kinds of battlefield fire and explosives. It is highly mobile, manoeuvrable and boasts supreme firepower.
The eight-wheel Boxer CRV can also be transformed like Lego to suit each mission – with the top module unbolted and swapped to change the vehicle from an infantry fighting machine to a battlefield ambulance and a range of other modes.
The National Security Council is expected to make its decision about Phase 2 in the first half of 2018 with the first vehicles delivered in 2020.