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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8479


Mr VAN MANEN (FordeGovernment Whip) (11:29): It's a pleasure to rise today to speak about the government's record investment of some $200 billion in the Australian Defence Force's capabilities. More importantly, with that $200 billion investment pipeline being rolled out, I want to speak today about the positive impacts being felt by small business across Australia. The program provides an outstanding and unique opportunity for Australian business, and the economic and social benefits of it are good not only for businesses but for the communities in which they're located.

A perfect example of this is located in my electorate of Forde. The engineering company Holmwood Highgate has been successful, in conjunction with Haulmark Trailers, in winning a key part of the $1.4 billion Australian Defence Force contract better known as LAND 121. This project will see the replacement of the ADF's fleet of ageing vehicles and trailers, many of which are in excess of 30 years old and are costly and difficult to maintain. Holmwood Highgate was first established in Brisbane in 1950 to supply road tankers to companies like Shell and Caltex. Sixty-eight years later the company is recognised as a great example of dedication to task, good management and a commitment to excellence. This has resulted in steady and measured growth, and today Holmwood Highgate employs 140 people at its Loganholme manufacturing facilities. The awarding of the Defence Force contract is great news on a variety of fronts, not least of which is the creation of new jobs.

To carry out this ADF contract, the company will employ an extra 60 people, providing work at least until 2023. That's 60 more jobs added for years to come at a small business in my local community. It's absolute confirmation, if ever it was needed, that this government's support for investment in small business in our nation means jobs and security for workers and their families. But I'm pleased to say that it doesn't end there. The government's program also means that Holmwood Highgate will invest $2 million in additional capital equipment to carry out the LAND 121 contract and will outsource more than $25 million of associated works to local businesses. It's a multiphase program, providing the Australian Defence Force with the next generation of high-capability field vehicles, modules and trailers. The project will include 1,044 vehicles, 812 trailers and 872 modules. These will be used for military contingencies, for resupplying combat operations and for supporting the ADF's assistance to Australians after natural disasters such as floods, fires and cyclones. It deserves repeating that this government's injection of funds into Holmwood Highgate through the LAND 121 project will provide employment and business opportunities for the people in my electorate for many years to come.

Australia currently ranks 13th in the world for defence expenditure, but is only the 12th-largest exporter. There can be no doubt that the opportunity is there for Australian companies to compete in this lucrative export market. In fact, many Australian businesses who first supply defence materials to the Australian government go on to export these products overseas. I know from my discussions with Holmwood Highgate that that is exactly what they are looking to do. Their CEO, Wade Mellish, has spent significant time in the US talking to the US defence industry about how the technology they have developed here could be of use to the US. The government's efforts to develop the Defence Export Strategy to guide and measure these defence export outcomes will also support our capabilities in this space.

Overall, this shows that it's the government's commitment to ensure that Australian small and medium-sized businesses have an opportunity, through the defence industry statement and through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, to take part in the opportunities that will be created through a $200 billion long-term investment in building our national defence capabilities. Once again, it is a practical example of this government delivering what is needed for our country on an everyday basis to ensure we have jobs and a growing economy.