OPPORTUNITIES: The Rheinmetall road-show is set to visit Central Queensland later this month, including Mackay and Rockhampton.
OPPORTUNITIES: The Rheinmetall road-show is set to visit Central Queensland later this month, including Mackay and Rockhampton. Dean Whitling

Business heavyweight explains Rocky's defence potential

THE Capricornia Chamber of Commerce is keen to see new life at Rockhampton's Aurizon rolling-stock workshop, once the rail giant is finished using the facility.

Earlier this week, The Morning Bulletin reported that the business community was keen to see local politicians back a bid for the site to be used by specialist defence manufacturer Rheinmetall, if the company is successful in its bid to land a multi-billion dollar government contract to develop the next generation of armoured vehicles.

Capricornia Chamber of Commerce president Peter Fraser.
Capricornia Chamber of Commerce president Peter Fraser. Tamara MacKenzie ROK141016cbafra

Elements of our initial report need clarifying.

Here the chamber's president Peter Fraser outlines the benefits such a move would generate.

"Aurizon workers at the facility have already started to be laid off and by the end of 2018, the whole workforce will have been made redundant," Mr Fraser said.

"By and large however these are entrenched citizens and families in our community and they will stay in the area, therefore there will be somewhat of a skilled labour force to draw upon, should Rheinmetall decide to base its operations here, that are used to working with this type of heavy equipment.

"Whilst the yards are currently part Aurizon and part QLD Rail owned, there is no immediate and obvious capability to be able to convert these premises to any other usage, even in a residential development style.

"The specialised equipment used to lift heavy equipment and provide maintenance functions is already on site."

He said he testified and raised the proposal at a recent Senate Committee, of a larger permanent Australian Defence Force presence to be stationed in Rockhampton.

"Recently, Matt Canavan raised the possibility of this taking the form of a relocation of an armoured cavalry unit from Brisbane and that this would be a great fit for the local area," Mr Fraser said.

"This is particularly relevant when the types of vehicles used by an armoured cavalry unit, would be the same types as produced by Rheinmetall.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Aurizon workers protest the mass layoffs.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Aurizon workers protest the mass layoffs. Matty Holdsworth

"The 'Rheinmetall road-show' is due to come to Rockhampton this month and if they could be made aware of the scope of capabilities of the current facilities, then this may be a huge advantage.

"In addition, Brittany Lauga met with Aurizon executive yesterday and if dialogue could be commenced between them and Rheinmetall, then we may be closer to securing this opportunity locally.

"The sale of this facility to Rheinmetall provides a perfect exit strategy for Aurizon.

"In the event of a lease, at least income from the facility whilst it is being utilised by Rheinmetall for the production and maintenance of their vehicles, would keep this on hold until Aurizon further review their long term strategies for CQ.

"We have an obvious local testing ground in Shoalwater Bay for the equipment produced or serviced at the facility which is the massive Shoalwater Bay Defence Precinct.

"The rail yards themselves and their immediacy to the facility provide the perfect opportunity for the heavy materials used for the production or maintenance of the APCs or tanks; and for the ultimate movement out of the facility of the units."



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