By NOEL MURPHY
City Hall is ramping up its bid to host the $20 billion Land 400 military vehicle contract with mayor Darryn Lyons taking a swipe at Premier Denis Napthine to lobby harder for Geelong’s case.
The city will open a Geelong office, with full-time staff from Enteprise Geelong, to centralise its campaign and provide business, government and community advice on the giant defence contract.
Cr Lyons today outlined the city’s push to Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert, who toured the Marand engineering company’s facilities at the former Ford toolroom site in North Geelong and Deakin University’s Geelong Innovation Precinct.
Cr Lyons told the Independent the Land400 contract, together with associated operations by “prime” supply line companies could mean as much as $20 billion to Geelong – twice the $10 billion directly linked to Land400.
But he warned bids by other states posed a major challenge to Geelong case and challenged Dr Napthine to match a $5 million financial commitment Labor had made to Geelong’s case.
“Dr Napthine should be pushing harder, but I think Geelong’s pushing harder at the moment,” he said
Cr Lyons suggested the historic Osborne House, historic site of Australia’s first naval college, could perhaps host the Land 400 headquarters.
“From the mayor’s perspective, I stress not the council’s, the rejuvenation of Osborne House could be a fantastic opportunity,” he said.
“Bringing the primes to the city is a very important aspect of this contract and my ambitions for Geelong job creation. Even if we get just a couple a primes here that would be a fantastic start to building jobs sustainability for the next 30 years.
“But Queensland and South Australia are going hammer and tong for this also, we have to get our message to Canberra.”
The Land 400 Sentinel contract is a $10 billion design-and-manufacturing program with funding from the Australian Government’s Defence Capability Plan.
It is the world’s largest armoured vehicle project and Geelong – with its auto sector infrastructure, composite materials research base and ready workforce — is well placed to be the manufacturing hub for the combat vehicle.
Cr Lyons said he was concerned the City was pushing harder for the Land 400 contract than the State Government and urged it to redouble its efforts.
Cr Lyons’ office issued the following comments late Friday:
Mayor Lyons said the office would serve as a central contact point for all business, community and government engagement relating to the bid.
“Land 400 is one of the most significant opportunities for Geelong in decades – establishing a local office to manage the bid is a demonstration of our city’s united determination to secure this contract,” said the Mayor.
The combined manufacturing and maintenance contract for Land 400 is worth $20 billion.
“We will be opening the door on the Land 400 bid office soon and this follows concerted lobbying both at state level and in Canberra,” said Cr Lyons.
Mayor Lyons joined Federal Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson at a special briefing with Stuart Robert Assistant Minister for Defence and officers from the Department of Defence today at the Geelong Innovation Precinct at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.
“In addition to co-ordinating Geelong’s lobbying campaign the Land 400 office will become a contact point for businesses that would set up manufacturing operations if Geelong wins the contract.
“If the Commonwealth Government awards the contract to Geelong it is likely there will be many specialist firms keen to base their operations in Geelong,” said Cr Lyons.
“At the same time many of Geelong’s existing researchers, companies and infrastructure are likely to play a part in the contract.
“This is one of Geelong’s key strengths – we already have capacity in many of the specialised industries that will be required to build the Land 400, including composite fibre.”
The proposed Land 400 business office has been established with the assistance of the Land 400 steering group comprising the City of Greater Geelong, Enterprise Geelong, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Geelong Manufacturing Council, G21 Regional Alliance, Deakin University, Committee for Geelong, Avalon Airport and Australian Combat Vehicle Consortium.