Ipswich defence industry turns QLD into the 'khaki state'
WITH the simple turn of six khaki shovels, Ipswich's largest infrastructure investment in recent memory got underway.
The first sod has been turned in the two-year construction of Rheinmetall's $170 million Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence site at Redbank.
When it is finished in early 2020, the facility will deliver the Commonwealth's $5.2 billion Land 400 Phase 2 project to the Australian Army.
A Boxer Combat Vehicle will roll off Rheinmetall's Redbank production line and into the hands of the Australian Army every three days.
Yesterday Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and State Development Minister Cameron Dick joined Federal Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo to start capital works on the site.
The Premier said Queensland was becoming "Australia's khaki state", luring companies to bolster the state's defence industries.
"We're ushering in a new era for our defence and advanced manufacturing sectors, as well as welcoming an average of 300 construction jobs over the two-year build," Ms Palaszczuk said.
She expected thousands of jobs would be created in the supply chain as a result of increasing investment in the defence sector.
Rheinmetall's military vehicle centre at Redbank will be the company's largest presence outside Germany.
The site will include a vehicle test track, rooftop laser and indoor firing range.
"We want to be known as the khaki state when it comes to building things that will defend our nation," Mr Dick said.
"The development is a boost to our efforts to usher in a $7 billion defence industries sector by 2028 and grow a 10,000 strong workforce to support the sector in the next decade."
Rheinmetall Defence managing director Gary Stewart said the company would establish a sovereign capability for military vehicle design and production in Australia.
"We are looking forward to growing our business here in southeast Queensland for decades to come, and a vital element is continuing to be a leader in defence technology, research and development," he said.
Mr Stewart said the facility would ensure the company could build "the safest and most capable vehicles for the Australian Army".
The construction of the site will put Rheinmetall in the box seat to secure the next stage of the contract, worth about $13 billion.
Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller said the development added another feather into the region's defence cap.
"Ipswich is known for the RAAF base at Amberley but now we'll be known for this military site of defence," she said.
"I hope as many of the jobs will be given to locals as possible."
The location of the Rheinmetall facility will give the army the ability to rapidly deploy when required.
About 70 per cent of the Army's operational vehicles will be based in Queensland.