Welded to federal contracts

Member for Page Kevin Hogan announcing that Yamba Welding and Engineering has won a $5 million contract to build boats for the Australian Border Force. He is pictured with proprietor Bill Collingburn (first to the right of Mr Hogan), Australian Border Force commander, Craig Sommerville (next to Mr Collingburn), and Yamba Welding staff. Image Geoff Helisma

Yamba Welding and Engineering has landed a $5million contract to build four 12-metre and four 5-metre boats for the Australian Border Force, over the next two years.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who was accompanied by Australian Border Force’s commander of special operations support and business engagement, Craig Sommerville, officially announced the Yamba firm’s successful tender in Yamba last Friday.
“This is great news for Yamba Welding, our local community and importantly people looking for work,” Mr Hogan said.
“Government tenders such as these helps to boost small businesses, maintain jobs and build a strong local economy.
“Yamba Welding won this contract in an open-market tender process which shows our local companies are as good as any in the country.”
Yamba Welding’s proprietor, Bill Collingburn, said he was “delighted” to have won the contract, which augments previous government contracts.
“This takes it one step further, with Border Force,” he said.
“It will allow us to put on more apprentices and make sure they have a future in the industry.”
Yamba Welding’s foray into building vessels for governments was kicked into gear when Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker announced a $255,000 Sustainable Regions Program grant in 2005, to expand the business’s workshop.
Meanwhile, in 2015, at a roundtable workshop in Coffs Harbour, Mr Hartsuyker described “boat building on the Clarence River as the ‘sleeping giant’ of all the employment opportunities in the Lower Clarence”.
“It’s important that all levels of government work with such businesses to ensure they are able to expand and create more jobs,” he said, commenting on boat builders, Yamba Welding and Engineering, and Harwood Marine.
Mr Collingburn said that since 2005, his company has moved forward to the point where it is a quality assured builder of rigid inflatable vessels in Australia – the company has spent around $1million dollars on research and development and quality assurance over recent years.
“[In 2005], we were supposed to put on two apprentices, we put on five; and so the employment of local apprentices has continued,” he said.

“Most of our apprentices went to school together, both senior and junior; they’re all locals, apart from a senior resident – we grew from 11 to 17 employees [following 2005 grant].
Nowadays, Mr Collingburn employs 28 people, eight of whom are apprentices, and he has forecast that “we’ll soon be employing two more”.
Border Force commander, Craig Sommerville, said it “is fantastic to be here today”.
“This is a great investment of government [spending], building our capability as a border force,” he said.
“We are also working with a South Australian company … this will allow us to work more and more around harbours, marinas and remote areas.
“It’s fantastic to work with a well-established and renowned Australian boat builder.”
Mr Hogan said: “The larger boats will be used for patrols in and around major and secondary ports and harbours to create a permanent presence to allow for a rapid response by Australian Border Force when needed.
“The smaller boats will be carried on an off-road allowing the vessels to be quickly deployed to remote coastal regions where there may not be suitable launching and retrieval facilities.”



Over the past 15 years Geoff Helisma has reported on all things Clarence Valley; telling stories about the tireless work of volunteers in community groups at one end of the spectrum, to investigating relevant local, state and federal government issues at the other.