Minister for Defence - Transcript - JP2097 ‘Redfin’ Phase 1B Announcement

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Senator the Hon David Johnston

Minister for Defence

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29 August 2014

With: Federal Member for Lindsay Fiona Scott MP


Firstly, this is a very exciting day for Western Sydney, $130 million is being invested here in Western Sydney to provide some of the most state-of-the-art and impressive military technology – that’s 55 jobs for the people here in Lindsay and I’m just overwhelmed by what that will mean. These are specialist technical jobs as well; it just goes to show the innovation that is here in Western Sydney.

I’d like to thank Peter Baker from Baker & Provan for the hard work that he’s done in securing this contract. Also, the work here of the Penrith business alliance and also Mayor Ross Fowler who is here with us today.

Finally, to Minister Johnston for being here and for believing in the people of Western Sydney, but also for coming out here today to announce this $130 million investment. It’s very exciting, so thank you Minister and I look forward to seeing these Supacat vehicles coming off the production line.


Thank you Fiona and thank you for putting up such a great fight to get defence industry into Western Sydney and the seat of Lindsay as you always do, the product of that fight is on display here today.

I’m very, very proud to be here talking about Supacat and their High Mobility Transporter Special Operations Vehicle that is behind me. I’m also extremely impressed to be here at Baker & Provan and see the high-tech manufacturing capacity that is on display here and has been serving Western Sydney and Australia for many, many years; Peter thank you very much for having us along today.

We are going to produce 89 of this particular vehicle here with the assistance of a number of manufacturers in Victoria and throughout New South Wales representing 150 new jobs in total with 55 here. Let’s not forget that in terms of this vehicle serving Special Forces – 2nd Commando out of Holsworthy – it is on the cutting-edge of our capability. These vehicles will be in harm’s way, so when we want 89 of them – knowing full well that our SAS boys in Swanbourne have 31 of them already – it’s got to be good and it’s got to be built absolutely to perfection.

I’m extremely proud to be here today to say ‘this is the vehicle for us’. Congratulations to Supacat, but more particularly to Baker & Provan and all those Australian manufacturers that are doing such great work to keep our men safe on the front line of what we all know are increasing challenges day in, day out, doing their specialist, difficult and extremely dangerous tasks.

Well done Supacat, well done Baker & Provan, it’s a pleasure to be here. We’ll take some questions if you’ve got any questions.


Minister is there any update on the US request for Australian involvement in Iraq and if Australia was involved what would that involvement look like?


I’ve been watching with great interest what President Obama has been saying and I think we all can see that he is carefully and in a very considered way working with friends and allies to develop potential plans.

Now we haven’t received any formal request to participate other than in a strictly humanitarian way – and can I pause to say that this morning I was with our C-130 crews that actually did the work at Sinjar in Iraq, what a fabulous bunch of people doing absolutely amazing and dangerous work.

So we haven’t received a request from our good friend the United States yet and I think we’re a little distance from that, but of course we’re all extremely concerned by what we are seeing and what we are hearing about what is going on in Iraq and as normal Australia will be there with its friends and allies to lend what assistance we see is to the advantage of them and to the advantage of keeping Australians safe.


Just moving to another region, to the Ukraine, Julie Bishop described Russia’s activity as ‘an invasion’, do you agree with that and what action should Australia take against Russia?


Of course I agree with Julie Bishop, she’s actually been to Kiev. I was home here assisting day in, day out with NSC meetings for MH17 – the shooting down of that plane was nothing less than an atrocity.

I am very disturbed by Russian activity, there are about 25,000 Russian troops on the border and we’re hearing now they’re coming into the Ukraine, this is totally unacceptable. Everything Julie says about this I certainly underlie and endorse.


Minister with the value of one of these vehicles, how much is the estimated cost?


We’re spending $130 million on 89 vehicles.


So how much is one vehicle?


Well you can work out the maths but the point is this: it is a very important and difficult task to keep our men safe when they’re driving around in the face of things like IEDs and RPGs. That sort of kinetic force we need to meet with a very superior and very well-armoured but flexible, agile, highly capable vehicle and that’s what we’ve got with Supacat. So the expense really is all about protection. Of course they’re expensive because we need to keep our people safe.


Speaking about the features that this Supacat vehicle has, what are some of the features that it has?


Well it’s got a fabulously high-powered turbocharged Cummins motor that gets it along at about 100 kph; it’s got doors and other facilities that can protect but also can open out to allow a field of fire for the occupants; it’s highly flexible with a high endurance or long range; inside are a whole lot of very capable systems that keep the crew fully informed as to the batttlespace, enhancing their situational awareness, providing satellite communications and all of the things we would want cutting-edge Special Forces to have when they’re in battle.


And being put together here, when are we expecting it to be, for all 89 vehicles.


I think we’re going to see the first vehicles produced later next year, September next year we’ll start to see vehicles coming along.


How long does it take to make one?


We’ll be building about 10 per month at top rate and the assembly time is about a month from start to finish.


Just one other question, should Kevin Andrews have ever agreed to open the World Families Congress in Melbourne?


I’m not across exactly what’s going on in that Congress, I have got issues with Iraq and the Ukraine so I’m not entirely familiar with what’s happening in that space, I’m focussed on what we’re doing here today, on Western Sydney, jobs for Western Sydney and jobs for Lindsay.

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