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Australian industry shut out of contracts to design and supply new infantry weapons



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MEDIA RELEASE BY THE LEADER OF THE NATIONAL PARTY, IAN SINCLAIR

Shadow Defence Minister, Ian Sinclair, today attacked the Defence Department for shutting Australian industry out of contracts to design and supply new infantry weapons.

He said that reports that the Government would spend $160 million on new Austrian and Belgian weapons for the Army denied industry the incentive to undertake research and development.

He said that there needed to be a 1 complete rethink' by the Defence Department on its policy of denying Australian manufacturers the chance to develop light weapons at least for the three Services.

Mr Sinclair said it was reported that more than 70,000 Austrian Steyr automatic 5.56mm weapons would be bought over seven years, beginning in 1988.

This contract follows one let for 3000 Belgian Minimi heavy machine guns.

"Australia should be able to develop its own weapons, manufacture them here and then either sell them to New Zealand and ASEAN neighbours, or negotiate for those countries to manufacture them under licence," Mr Sinclair said.

"This Government is not prepared to take an iniative with Australian industry to allow its full participation in defence projects - and that's being shortsighted.”

CANBERRA

27 November 1985