Thursday, September 5, 2013

Australia Outsourcing New Army Jacket

U.S. politicians have the benefit of the Berry Amendment to deduct themselves from dealings with any military clothing manufacturing being allowed to be sent abroad to save on cost or other factors. However, some politicians in Australia are jumping on the opportunity to throw some foes under the bus as it has been revealed that a $20 Million dollar contract has been sent overseas for their combat jacket. 

Bruck Textiles has put out an official release on the subject stating that the Federal Labor Government has allowed a contract for the supply of a new Australian Army Jacket to be manufactured offshore utilizing a camouflage fabric that is also not domestically manufactured. The initial contract is for 5 years with the option for extension up to 9 years in total. 
Many Australian citizens have brought up the concern of their military manufacturing being taken overseas rather than supporting domestic companies. We had reported over two years ago on Bruck Textiles indignation when the Australian Department of Defense chose Crye Precision's MultiCam pattern for use in by Australian forces in Afghanistan without giving a domestic designer the chance to compete for the contract. These issues do not stop at military clothing for the Australian Department of Defense, but gives you a taste of the frustrations that arise with some Australian manufacturers. 
We have provided the full press release from Bruck Textiles below. We are sure there are some politicking going on over this situation, however you can see how important the Berry Amendment is in the United States to take out any ambiguity for defense manufacturing to take place domestically. We are sure there will be foreign manufacturers looking to exploit loopholes, but we hope that politicians will stick by the logic behind the law and not degrade its purpose with further amendments if domestic manufacturers can deliver the goods. 
Manufacturing jobs in Victoria put at risk as the Federal Labor Government supports contract for a new Army Camouflage Jacket and fabric to be made offshore
The Federal Labor Government has stood by and allowed a contract to be signed on August 20, 2013, for supply of a new Army jacket, where the camouflage fabric and the garment will be made offshore.  The contract has been awarded for a period of 5 years with a total value of nearly $20 million. There are also options for additional 4 x 1 year terms, so the business could be lost to imported product for up to 9 years!
Bruck Textiles CEO, Mr Geoff Parker, said that the controversial decision makes a mockery of the Federal Government’s policy of supporting Australian manufacturing jobs.
“It is beyond belief that the Labor Federal Government would risk Australian manufacturing jobs, and undermine the fragile regional manufacturing economy by allowing a crucial uniform contract to be granted to an overseas supplier,” Mr parker said.
“This is happening while an election is in progress, which is bad enough. What does this say about a future Labor Government’s commitment to regional Australian jobs? It would be best for all concerned if this decision was put on hold until the outcome of the Federal Election is decided on September 7. The Liberal Party has committed to supporting the Australian Defence Manufacturing Industry with the Shadow Defence Minister Senator David Johnson and Shadow Industry Minister Sophie Mirabella, Bruck’s local Member in Indi, both being supportive of an Australian made policy.
“The ADF uniform in question, which will potentially be worn by all Army defence force personnel, consists of around 80,000 jackets to be manufactured over 5 years. It could easily be manufactured in Australia which would ensure security of supply, as well as supporting Australian manufacturing capability and jobs in Australia.
Apart from the moral question of supporting Australian manufactures and workers, significantly, this contract, would secure much-needed manufacturing jobs in Victoria for up to nine years and beyond,” he added.
“This decision is even more significant as it marks the first time that an ADF uniform camouflage fabric will not be manufactured in Australia. The result will be a reduction in investment in Australian fabric technology aimed at protecting and assisting our armed forces.
Mr Parker said that despite raising these concerns with the Minister for Defence Material, Mike Kelly MP, the Labor Federal Government stood by and allowed the $20m contract to be signed on August 20, 2013 and have refused to intervene since.
“When this tender was released in November 2012, one of the key requirements set by the Defence Materials Organisation (DMO) was that the new jackets were required for the Australian Winter. Delays in the tender evaluation resulted in that criteria not being met. If they had been given the opportunity, a number of Australian companies have confirmed that an Australian-made option would have delivered the jackets as per the tender,” Mr Parker said.
“We have ascertained that Australian-made options were tendered to the DMO, but they were not instructed to select an Australian manufacturer.”
In 2010, the Minister for Defence Material, Jason Clare MP, defined the meaning of the combat uniform to include only shirts and trousers. All other camouflage apparel items worn by the ADF in Australia, or in operations overseas are not defined as being part of the combat uniform. Therefore, they are not required to be manufactured in Australia under the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. For the past two years, the Australian manufacturing industry has been lobbying the Federal Government to include the full combat uniform in the definition.
Mr Parker added that the indifference of the Federal Labor Government to mandate Australian made is at odds with its own investment in product development programs in Australia for new Defence technology.
“Australian companies are matching Federal Government investment dollars but there has to be business today to support investment into the future. Labor is supporting the economies and creating jobs in foreign countries by awarding contracts to companies that are not investing in Australia’s future. By any measure, this is poor investment management and a slap in the face to the Australian manufacturing industries,” Mr Parker said.
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