75 Years of Manufacturing History

The milestone was celebrated with a function on Thursday morning, at which employees past and present were congratulated for their contribution to Bendigo and Australia’s defence capabilities.

Bendigo has marked 75 years of defence manufacturing history this week at the Thales factory in North Bendigo.

Thales Australia land vice president Kevin Wall said the anniversary was not only a milestone for the company, but for employees and the wider community.

“This facility’s been here since the Second World War,” Mr Wall said.

“It’s had a vital part to play in defence industry and support to defence on operations.”

The facility began operating as the Bendigo Ordnance Factory in 1942, producing heavy artillery and naval guns.

Almost 20 years ago, the then-federal government-owned facility was sold to the multinational Thales, which continues to operate the factory today.

The factory now produces the Bushmaster troop carrier, which is in service with eight armies around the world, and the Hawkei light armoured vehicle, which will soon go into service with the Australian Defence Force.

At Thursday’s event, more than 20 employees with at least 40 years of service each at the factory were recognised, 14 of whom are still working there.

There were also special guests with histories at the factory that went even further back, to its early days.

Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters spoke of the connection many of the city’s residents have to the facility.

“It’s not hard to meet somebody in Bendigo who got their start here,” Ms Chesters said.

Ms Chesters commended the vehicles produced at the facility for their life-saving abilities in combat.

When Australians went to serve in overseas combat zones, she said, Bendigo could be proud of its contribution to protecting lives.

Mr Wall said he saw a “great future” ahead for the Bendigo facility.

He said the factory would continue manufacturing vehicles for the ADF well into the 2020s, and there were new opportunities emerging in the export market.

An artwork created by military artist Robert Milton especially for the anniversary was also unveiled.


This article courtesy of Bendigo Advertiser. For more articles by this author click here.