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Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence Darren Chester toured two Mid North Coast businesses that have contracts to supply locally-made products to the Australian Defence Force.

Mr Hartsuyker and Mr Chester commenced the day with a tour of the Akubra factory in Kempsey, which will supply around 20,000 slouch hats to the Australian Defence Force in 2015. They then visited Express Coach Builders in Macksville which is supplying 21 new coaches to the Australian Defence Force.

“Both Akubra and Express Coach Builders manufacture products of exceptionally high quality using skilled local tradesmen and expertise.

“Akubra has been making slouch hats for Aussie Diggers for more than 80 years. Under its current contract with Defence, Akubra will continue supplying slouch hats until 2017, with options to extend the contract each year until 2021.

“Express Coach Builders has partnered with Scania Australia to manufacture 21 touring coaches for Defence. This significant contract worth more than $10 million is supporting local jobs and local suppliers,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“The slouch hat is part of an Aussie soldier’s identity. Touring the Akubra factory to see how these hats are made was fascinating,” Mr Chester said.

“I know our soldiers are proud to wear the slouch hat, and it was clear today that the staff at Akubra are equally proud to be involved in making them.

“I was also impressed by the professionalism of the workforce at Express Coach Builders. They have delivered 10 coaches to Defence so far, and early feedback from users has been very positive.

“The Australian Government aims to maximise the involvement of Australian industry in Defence procurement. I am very pleased to see these local companies delivering excellent products to the Australian Defence Force and contributing to our national security,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Hartsuyker and Mr Chester also inspected the Frank Partridge VC Military Museum in Bowraville and visited the Bowraville Ex-Services Club to announce a Veterans and Community Grant of $62,917 to upgrade the Club’s facilities.

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