The Australian Government is set to enter talks with firearms and ammunition specialist NIOA over long-term tenancy arrangements at the state-owned munitions facility in Benalla, Victoria.
Collaborative negotiations with NIOA for a second long-term tenancy alongside Thales Australia will take place early this year.
The government will take on a ‘new approach’ towards the NIOA tenancy arrangements and expects the initiative will create up to 100 advanced manufacturing jobs in the region over the next decade.
Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “This will be the first time since the facility was established in the early 1990s that other munitions manufacturers will operate at Benalla, bringing the facility into line with international best practice, creating jobs in regional Victoria, delivering better utilisation of the facilities and launching a new era for ammunition manufacture for the ADF and for export opportunities.
“The expected long-term tenancy at Benalla from 1 July 2020 will be further discussed in parallel with negotiations already underway between the Commonwealth and Thales to continue their current responsibilities at Benalla munitions facility.”
The development follows NIOA’s three-year A$81.6m ($58.56m) contract awarded in December to help the Australian Defence Force to sustain its current mortar capability.
The company is also under a contract for the delivery of advanced high-performance 155mm lightweight towed howitzer ammunition to the Australian Army.
Pyne added: “The NIOA tenancy will strengthen and diversify sovereign capability while also ensuring increased use of the government factories at Benalla, providing more munitions supply options for defence.
“This announcement will provide increased security of employment for the staff at the government factories at Benalla and ensure the facilities’ ongoing financial viability for the next generation.”