Khaki shovels have been used to turn the first sod as construction begins on Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s Australia-New Zealand Headquarters and Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) at the Redbank Motorway Estate in Ipswich.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the colour of the shovels signals Queensland is fast becoming Australia’s ‘khaki state’, luring companies to bolster the State’s defence manufacturing sector.
“After securing the Commonwealth’s $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 project, Rheinmetall’s decision to build their next-generation combat reconnaissance vehicles in Queensland is a vote of confidence in this State’s future as a major supplier for the Australian Defence Force,” the Premier said.
“As we break ground on this new $170 million facility, we’re ushering in a new era for our defence and advanced manufacturing sectors, as well as welcoming an average of 300 construction jobs over the two-year build.
“When this facility is fully operational, it will deliver Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs) for the Australian Army and contribute $1 billion toward Queensland’s economy.”
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the start of construction is a step towards a new military vehicle manufacturing industry for Queensland, and a giant leap towards the economic and industry development benefits the LAND 400 Phase 2 project will deliver.
“Today’s development is a boost to our efforts to usher in a nation-leading defence industries sector by 2028 and grow a 10,000-strong workforce to support the sector in the next decade,” he said.
“Rheinmetall’s MILVEHCOE will be its largest presence outside Germany and this location positions them in the heart of Australia’s leading heavy vehicle manufacturing and sustainment precinct.
“The manufacture of what is one of the most technologically advanced military vehicles of its type in the world today will be happening right here in Ipswich, and with that comes 450 highly skilled jobs for Queenslanders and an unrivalled opportunity for our local industry to take its capabilities to the next level and beyond.”
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government was using its extensive experience in the delivery of large infrastructure projects to oversee the construction of MILVEHCOE on Rheinmetall’s behalf.
“We will drive the ambitious construction program that will see phased practical completion from mid-2020,” Mr de Brenni said.
“The construction of the facility will include manufacturing and administration buildings, a training centre, a fully enclosed weapons test firing tunnel, an electro-magnetic compatibility chamber and a vehicle compliance test track.”
Managing Director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia, Gary Stewart, said the Australian Defence Force is securing its greatest increase in military capability in a generation, and Rheinmetall is a proud partner in delivering the Army’s next generation of military vehicles from the MILVEHCOE.
“The MILVEHCOE will be a state-of-the-art facility for the design and manufacture of military vehicles, turrets, armour, electro-optics, simulation and other advanced systems,” he said.
“In addition to delivering the Boxer CRVs and the integration of 1000 logistics trucks under the LAND 121 Phase 5B project, the facility will be a regional hub for the support for up to 5000 vehicles from Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
“We are looking forward to growing our business here in South East Queensland for decades to come, and a vital element is continuing to be a leader in defence technology, research and development.
“We will be investing accordingly both here in Queensland and with our research partners across the country.”
The Queensland Government is using its extensive experience in the delivery of large infrastructure projects to oversee the construction of the MILVEHCOE on Rheinmetall’s behalf, and will drive the ambitious construction program that will see phased practical completion from mid-2020.
Watpac is the managing contractor for the construction of the facility that will include manufacturing and administration buildings, a training centre, a fully enclosed weapons test firing tunnel, an electro-magnetic compatibility chamber and a vehicle compliance test track.
Watpac Managing Director Martin Monro said the company has been working closely with GHD to finalise the facility’s design and is ready to commence construction immediately.
“The MILVEHCOE construction will support an average of 300 jobs over two years and we are committed to providing full, fair and reasonable access to tender opportunities for the construction, with the Industry Capability Network promoting all tenders and work packages on its ICN Gateway,” he said.
Minister Dick said Rheinmetall will transfer technology, skills and expertise from Germany that will provide Australia with a sovereign military capability that will not only protect our own service personnel but will create a valuable export capability for our international defence allies.
“Rheinmetall has already been recruiting Australians to work in Germany on the manufacture of the first 25 vehicles and this will not only equip Rheinmetall’s Australian workforce with extensive skills and experience but will provide the Australian Army with a much earlier vehicle capability,” he said.
“Queensland’s defence industry capabilities are well and truly on the national and international radar and guided by the actions set out in the Defence Industries and Aerospace 10-year Roadmaps, our government is maximising all potential opportunities for defence expansion.
“We already have our sights set on the $10–$15 billion LAND 400 Phase 3 project being delivered from Queensland where there will be the best facility and the critical mass of industry capability and skills ready to seamlessly deliver the Army’s new generation of infantry fighting vehicles.”