It was with a hum rather than a bang that the new pistol ammunition manufacturing line was officially launched at Thales’ Benalla facility.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan pressed the green button to start up the automated machine, which has been acquired from NSW Police and upgraded with $1 million, will produce 10 million rounds of ammunition each year.
She said “it was a real thrill” to get the machine started.
Thales land vice president Kevin Wall said at least five people per shift would be employed to run the machine.
“We supply both the Australian and New Zealand defence forces with their ammunition and we’re really excited about the opportunity to supply pistol ammunition, both training and operations rounds, into law enforcement agencies too,” he said.
“This is something we’ve always wanted to get into, the pistol market. It completes the line for pistol and rifle for Benalla and Australia.”
Thales hoped it could also lead to more exports for the company, which already exports to 17 different countries with rifle ammunition and other products for defence and law enforcement.
Mr Wall said the automated machine was important for high quality and high volume production, but would also create jobs.
Ms McGowan said it was important to keep defence manufacturing jobs in the North East.
“The multiplier to our community is just going to be enormous, it’s fantastic to see facilities like this in Benalla, working with Mulwala,” she said.
“In many other areas of Australia the manufacturing industry is dying, but not here in North East Victoria – it’s absolutely growing.”