MPs are pushing for a $2 billion Defence contract to be handed to a local company over foreign rivals.
MPs are pushing for a $2 billion Defence contract to be handed to a local company over foreign rivals.

Bid to bring $2b weapons deal to Queensland

THERE are mounting calls for national sovereignty to be prioritised for a $2 billion Defence contract pitting a Queensland company against two multinational defence giants.

The sensitive contract to replace every Army weapons system from grenades to machine guns over the next decade is due to be finalised later this month. Brisbane-headquartered arms supplier NIOA is locked in a battle with Thales, from France, and Babcock, from the UK, for the lucrative LAND 159/4108 deal.

A Brisbane company is fighting for a $2 billion contract to replace every weapons system in the Army over the next decade.
A Brisbane company is fighting for a $2 billion contract to replace every weapons system in the Army over the next decade.

The NIOA bid is increasingly gaining support after the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance of national supply chains and defence sovereignty.

It's being pushed by a growing group of Queensland LNP politicians keen to replicate their success helping to deliver a $5 billion Boxer contract to the state in 2018.

Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien is pushing for Defence to pick the only Australian company in the running for a major contract to ensure jobs and profits stay on shore. Picture: Lachie Millard
Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien is pushing for Defence to pick the only Australian company in the running for a major contract to ensure jobs and profits stay on shore. Picture: Lachie Millard

Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien, who spearheaded the Boxer campaign, said it was critical NIOA won the contract to ensure jobs, profits and intellectual property remained in Australia.

"In NIOA we have a secure, sovereign partner to offer our defence forces, a company that is 100 per cent Australian-owned and operated, with demonstrable expertise in weapons and munitions," Mr O'Brien said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of national sovereignty in critical supply chains and you don't get more critical than our defence force personnel, their equipment and capability."

Mr O'Brien hopes the Team Queensland group of LNP pollies can swing into gear as a powerful lobbying block for the bid.

Bonner MP Ross Vasta has already jumped aboard.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien said NIOA was already delivering jobs in the regions through projects such as its Maryborough munitions plant.

A Defence spokeswoman said none of the selection criteria had changed in response to the pandemic.

Originally published as Bid to bring $2b weapons deal to Queensland


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