BANDIANA’S army workshops are set to gain valuable repair work from the army at Townsville — and the Far North Queensland city is furious.
Wadsworth Barracks at Bandiana and Townsville’s Lavarack Barracks are part of Joint Logistics Command, but are 3433 kilometres apart.
The Queenslanders claim it won’t make sense for the military to send components such as engine blocks that far south in civilian trucks to be repaired.
While BAE Systems is the major contractor at Bandiana, much of the repair work at Lavarack is outsourced to Wearing’s Diesel Engine Service in Garbutt and a dozen related businesses.
In a separate issue, Bandiana and Townsville have been told that new mega-warehouses due to be built this year won’t now happen for at least 18 months to two years due to government cuts.
Meanwhile, the 300-plus BAE workforce at Bandiana learned on Tuesday that their employer has missed out on a national contract, so they won’t be working for BAE after June 30.
The identity of the new national contractor to handle military vehicle and weapon maintenance across 12 bases won’t be announced for weeks as final negotiations get under way.
In Townsville yesterday, a federal Coalition defence spokesman, Stuart Robert, and local MP Ewen Jones backed builders, business owners and community leaders worried about the impact of defence cuts.
“The government cancelled a $145 million project at Lavarack Barracks weeks before it was due to start, resulting in a direct hit to local construction jobs,” Mr Jones said.
“Millions of dollars worth of defence maintenance work is being sent to south-based businesses, hurting local small businesses and jobs.”
A defence department spokesman in Canberra declined to comment yesterday on the cloud hanging over the BAE workers at Bandiana, saying it “wasn’t appropriate to comment” with the tender process not yet completed.
Union leaders were believed to be working behind the scenes to contact federal ministers about their Bandiana members’ job security.
In December, Lavarack’s commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Karel Dubsky, told Townsville businesses that, due to funding cuts, the defence force would take work in-house and use BAE, which he said could do the work more cheaply.
Townsville company owner John Wearing said the claim was ludicrous.