Commando cars drive jobs boost

A new journey begins: Baker and Provan managing director Peter Baker and director David Trist got their first glimpse of the Supacat on Friday. Their staff will be assembling it to meet Australian Special Force's requirements. Picture: Anna Warr

A new journey begins: Baker and Provan managing director Peter Baker and director David Trist got their first glimpse of the Supacat on Friday. Their staff will be assembling it to meet Australian Special Force's requirements. Picture: Anna Warr

A ST MARYS engineering business will become a driving force for Australia's defences.

Baker and Provan will benefit from a $130 million federal government contract awarded to Supacat Ltd to supply 89 special operations commando vehicles for the Defence Force.

Defence Minister David Johnston visited the factory on Friday to announce the vehicles will be assembled here and create an additional 55 jobs for Baker and Provan.

The slow economy and off-shore competition forced the business to lay off staff 18 months ago.

"We've had a difficult time in the last few years so this will be a great boost to local employment in the high-tech industry," director David Trist said.

"Several thousand parts will be coming from all over the world, including some built in Australia."

He hopes to start a partnership with the UWS campus engineering faculty.

"It's great for the industry to have a university at our doorstep," Mr Trist said.

"We hope to expand our partnership with Supacat Ltd, which has been very innovative in the Asia-Pacific region."

Managing director Peter Baker said they hoped to start assembling "immediately" as the project was due to be completed in early 2016.

"It represents a business opportunity for us and jobs for people in this area," he said.

"We have a long history in delivering industry leading and highly specialised machinery."

The company has also contributed to the production of boring machines for the North West Rail Link.

Baker and Provan was founded by Peter's late father Arthur, and Don Provan, who met while working at a factory in Lithgow.

They started it in 1946 when they returned from World War II.

"It is interesting to note that in 1931, there was an attempt to start a motor car company here and, 83 years later, albeit in a smaller way, we are replicating vehicle assembly," Mr Baker said.

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