The Ararat Advertiser
Article by Jessie Antonio
ARARAT – AME Systems is set to benefit from a new Department of Defence contract which will see an additional 101 Bushmaster vehicles purchased from Thales in Bendigo. The Ararat company supplies the circuitry for the vehicles which have been credited by Defence as saving more than 40 Australian lives in Afghanistan.
Managing director, Peter Carthew said the announcement was a major win for the manufacturing industry and the community of Ararat.
“It’s wonderful news and will assist us to maintain our current levels of employment,” he said.
“What it does is it gives us great hope. We have to, of course, compete for the work again, but we feel confident about it after what’s happened and what we have done as a company. “If we were to miss it we would be going to the Prime Minister looking for reasons.”
Mr Carthew said the latest contract would not have come about without the support of Federal Member Wannon, Dan Tehan who continues to fight for the interests of the industry.
“We are thankful for Dan Tehan, our local member’s support with our manufacturing industry concerns,” Mr Carthew said. “He’s truly dedicated to the region and is on course with us as an industry so we appreciate that.”
Mr Tehan said he hoped the announcement would lead to further Federal Government support.
“Having made this announcement, the Gillard Labor Government now needs to make a decision regarding the Land 121 Phase 3 and Phase 4 projects for a range of protected and unprotected medium to heavy vehicles to ensure the long term viability of manufacturing jobs in Australia,” he said. “This commitment would also obviously deliver even greater benefits for AME Systems and secure manufacturing jobs in Ararat.”
The first Bushmaster vehicle was delivered to the Australian Army in August 2004 and was operationally deployed to Iraq in April 2005 and Afghanistan in September 2005. No soldier has ever been killed in a Bushmaster which has armour-protected monocoque to resist blasts.
Mr Tehan said he was a strong supporter of the program continuing into the future. “(Bushmasters) are widely credited as being the safest protected mobility vehicle and the fact that they continue to save lives represents a compelling reason for the Defence Department to continue to use them,” he said.
“The Howard Government committed to the Bushmaster project and ordered 693 vehicles which strongly supported manufacturing in western Victoria,” he said. “This latest contract takes total orders to 730 Bushmaster vehicles and will ensure this successful program continues for another 12 months.”
“This short term commitment is obviously welcome, but the Gillard Labor Government needs to commit to supporting the local defence industry and commit to providing some certainty to the manufacturing industry in western Victoria.”
Mr Carthew said he backed Mr Tehan’s push for additional government support.
“We are hopeful that it is the first of a stream of commitments for ongoing programs to do with the Land 121 Phase 3 and 4 projects and other things that will need to be achieved to keep the Australian skills alive and support our industry potential to provide protection for our nation, particularly our various communities,” he said.
“We certainly need the capability to remain in-country and I hope we gain the support of both state, and particularly federal, governments in this defence program.
“It’s vital to industries such as AME and several others around Bendigo.”
AME Systems is Ararat’s largest manufacturer and employs 250 people. It has been in business for 34 years and supplies not only the circuitry for the Bushmasters but also for Kenworth Trucks.