Mrs VLAHOS (Taylor) (14:48): My question is to the Minister for Defence Industries. Can the minister inform the house about the government’s effort to attract land vehicle projects, such as the Land 400, to South Australia?
The Hon. M.L.J. HAMILTON-SMITH (Waite—Minister for Investment and Trade, Minister for Defence Industries, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) (14:48): I thank the member for her question, which I will attempt to answer in my best Barry White interpretation. It is anticipated that the federal government will announce first pass for the Land 400 project in November 2014. The project will be the Army’s largest ever acquisition of up to 800 armoured fighting vehicles, at a cost of $10 billion. It is anticipated that at least twice this much will be spent sustaining these vehicles over 30 years.
This is an outstanding opportunity for South Australia’s defence industry to grow its existing land vehicle manufacturing and through-life support capability and to capture a significant share of this massive defence spend. A project of this magnitude would provide skilled manufacturing and trade jobs for many years to come and economic growth for South Australians into the future.
The government is actively promoting South Australia as the preferred location for Land 400 and other special land vehicles manufacturing for the Army. A number of activities have taken place to support the state’s strategy for attracting potential bidders for these projects. Last month, the CEO of Defence SA and I travelled to Germany and Canada to meet with two of the international primes to discuss their interest in Land 400. We toured their vehicle manufacture and assembly sites. Last week, the Premier wrote to the Prime Minister, highlighting South Australia’s intention to attract this project and to advocate that Army receives its full quota of vehicles for Land 400.
This week, I attended the Land Forces 2014 Conference, where I met with other bidders for this project. It is an expo in Brisbane where a concept for a land combat systems precinct, including a vehicle test range, was launched by the South Australian government to attract potential bidders to South Australia, subject to the progress of the Land 400 program. This is an area where the opposition could help by encouraging the federal government to bid all 800 vehicles rather than a packet of 200.
The likely shape, size and location of such a precinct would probably be Edinburgh or near Techport so that an advanced manufacturing precinct could interact with suppliers, training facilities, skilled workers and the ADF based in Adelaide. None of the bidders would have any interest in building such a facility in a remote location like Woomera, and none of them has indicated an intention or an interest in doing so. It would not make business sense—just ask them.
During the conference, I met with the Chief of Army and other senior Army officials and key DMO decision-makers to discuss the project, and I also spent time meeting and talking with Australian and international representatives of the various primes, as I have mentioned. We already have a strong history in the land vehicle sector with the completion of the M113 and ASLAV projects in 2012.
The government will continue to communicate with the federal government to advocate for a whole of program, whole of life approach to the project which will drive a best-value outcome for workers and enterprises in the state. Essentially, we will support the solution which maximises jobs and prosperity for South Australians and which sees vehicles built and assembled in Australia and not overseas, if possible.