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Mulwala and Benalla munitions factory jobs secured with billion dollar agreement

By Yarrawonga Chronicle

Hundreds of Australian jobs will be secured for another decade after the Department of Defence signed a new, in excess of one billion dollars agreement with Thales Australia for the continued management and operation of Australia’s munition factories in Mulwala and Benalla on Monday.

The Mulwala munitions plant employs 380 people while the workforce at Benalla totals 270 for an overall total of 650 jobs.

The agreement provides surety of supply of key munitions and components for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and demonstrates the Morrison Federal Government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining a domestic munitions manufacturing capability.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said Monday’s announcement means the manufacturing sector can retain local skills and expertise.

“It’s vital that we continue to enhance the readiness of the ADF and ensure we have the necessary sovereign depth for sustaining key capability and materiel such as the surety of supply of munitions,” Minister Reynolds said.

“This agreement with Thales Australia will continue to maintain a safe and compliant operation and increase our domestic capacity to manufacture key munitions in support of ADF operations.

“Mulwala and its sister facility in Benalla are the home of munitions manufacturing in Australia, generating vital job opportunities in regional Victoria and New South Wales.

“This new agreement not only reinforces the 20-year strong partnership between Defence and Thales Australia, but also provides job certainty for the more than 650 highly-skilled workers at these factories. These jobs will be vital as the Australian economy recovers from COVID-19.”

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, said the Morrison Government had identified munitions and small arms as a critical capability for a sovereign defence industry. 

“We’ve developed and implemented a plan to grow munitions and small arms capability in Australia, as one of our Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities,” Minister Price said.

“It’s about identifying critical capabilities for the ADF, but also about strengthening our defence industry and creating new opportunities.

“Thales Australia has an excellent track record of working with local small businesses and I have no doubt they’ll continue to utilise the skills and ingenuity of small businesses right around Australia.”  

Thales Australia Chie Executive Chris Jenkins conveyed to the Yarrawonga Chronicle: “We have worked closely with Defence to manufacture munitions for more than 20 years, using our deep technical expertise to provide urgently required munitions to the Australian Defence Force whilst on operations.”

Christophe Salomon, Executive Vice President, Thales Land and Air Systems added: “Everything is about trust. Especially when it comes to Defence. The historic contract with the Australian Government builds on our trusted partnership with Defence for the long-term supply of essential equipment.” 

Federal Member for Farrer/Member for the Environment Susan Ley said she knows local management and staff at Thales are constantly refining and improving what they do to ensure they can continue to perform this vital role for our country.

“This agreement is particularly significant with job security more important than ever right now - it provides real confidence for the 380 people who work at the Mulwala site and who contribute so much to this local border economy,” she told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.