By Luke Voogt
With Geelong leaders lukewarm on lobbying to bring a $5 billion defence contract to the city, Grovedale octogenarian Robyn Seymour is stepping up in their place.
Robyn spoke out after the Indy reported that the two final bidders for the Land 400 combat vehicle project were keen on Geelong despite Industry Minister Wade Noonan claiming they preferred Melbourne.
Last week the chief of local municipal alliance body G21, Elaine Carbines, declined to lobby the Andrews government on Geelong’s behalf, calling the city a “very unlikely proposition” based on advice from “the minister and senior bureaucrats”.
Committee for Geelong boss Rebecca Casson and City Hall administrator Kathy Alexander also declined to lobby for Geelong to host the project.
Enter Robyn, turning 90 this year.
“I think it would be very good for Geelong because so many men are out of work at Ford and Alcoa – it would give them jobs,” she told the Indy.
“(The politicians) don’t seem to realise how serious it is. It hasn’t really hit people yet.”
Robyn, who lived at North Shore during World War II, remembered the factory churning out military vehicles daily.
“You’d see them in the driveway at Ford – they were all over the place.
“They seemed to be pretty busy with the vehicles.”
Ford suspended commercial operations for full-scale military production, manufacturing landing craft and artillery components.
Robyn remembered Americans moving into huts near Geelong’s international harvester.
“At the harvester they used to assemble planes and fly them up and down the paddock.”
Robyn worked for decades at Ford, retiring at age 57 in 1983.
“A long time after the war I worked at Ford in the medical centre and at the casting plant,” she said.
Robyn believes Geelong, with its defence history and automotive expertise, is the perfect location for manufacturing military vehicles.
“I don’t see why they can’t do it again,” she said.
The Victorian and South Australian Governments are competing to win the contract, with the latter stumping up a $100 million support package.
The Andrews government has yet to reveal details of any support for the Victorian bid.