New contract brings 800 jobs
THE KISS of life has just been given to the Fraser Coast with the announcement of an unexpected $189 million rail contract for Downer EDi Rail.
More than 800 jobs are connected with the Downer EDi operation in Maryborough and the contract will be viewed by those workers as the best Christmas present they could have received.
The good news for Downer EDi is that the new contract is not connected with the $2 billion tender they presently have before Queensland Rail for 200 passenger carriages.
Premier Anna Bligh announced in parliament yesterday that the $189 million contract was for the construction of a new tilt train to replace the Sunlander and the upgrade of two existing tilt trains.
“The current Sunlander train, which has been in service for 45 years, will be replaced by the new locomotive to be built in Maryborough, and when it’s commissioned will slash at least five hours from the current Sunlander travel times between Brisbane and Cairns,” Ms Bligh said.
Transport Minister Rachel Nolan visited the Downer EDi workshops late last year to view the production line first-hand and meet with company executives, workers and union representatives.
“Downer EDi is a first class operation producing quality rolling stock and supporting hundreds of local workers,” she said.
“The plant’s been building trains for Queensland Rail since 1897 and I’m sure these new ones will be built to the same very high standard.
“I completely understand what a critical employer Downer EDi is for the Fraser Coast and I’m pleased that this government decision means work is secured for hundreds of local people.” Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Andrew Dettmer, in welcoming the news, said that Downer EDi had been a real focus for his union over the last two years as part of its ongoing Manufacturing Matters campaign.
“With the workers from Downer EDi, the AMWU has campaigned hard to get government to prioritise the company over foreign or interstate alternatives for train manufacturing contracts,” he said.
“Downer EDi has long held the position as a successful Queensland manufacturer and should be celebrated by the State Government. “They also contribute significantly to the financial viability of Maryborough and the loss of any major government contracts would have a devastating effect on the Fraser Coast community.”
Mr Dettmer said the union was still waiting to hear about whether a larger rail manufacturing contract would be kept in the region.
When questioned on that yesterday Ms Nolan wouldn’t be drawn on whether Downer EDi had now firmed in the market to get the $2 billion passenger train contract.
Her only comment was that new stipulations provided that all tenders must have at least a 20 per cent local content provision and this placed Downer EDi in good stead.