THE lucrative $5billion defence contract to build 225 army tanks is just a flip of the coin away from establishing a whole new industry - an industry that Mackay proved yesterday it could well and truly deliver on.
But one $5billion contract could be just the beginning as the large yellow trucks at Paget could be joined by camouflage tankers to be shipped all around the world if the Federal Government makes the right decision for this region.
A defence deal would be huge for Queensland and with a defence manufacturing hub already in Ipswich and a supply chain using all of the best manufacturers in Queensland --- that's where Mackay would come in to the equation.
Yesterday one of Rheinmetall's Boxer CRV tanks rolled into town bringing with it the hope of millions of dollars in defence contracts through joining the supply chain to build what they describe as the most advanced military vehicle in the world.
German juggernaut Rheinmetall sat down with 15 Mackay businesses and gave a briefing to a further 25 about how they could become part of that supply chain, should the company be successful in securing Stage 2 of the Land 400 contract from the federal government.
But this is about more than just tapping into one $5billion contract, instead turning Queensland into an exporter of Rheinmetall defence equipment.
While 150 people ogled at the Boxer, strategy and marketing manager Tim Pickford said if they won Stages 2 and 3 of the contract they would also manufacture the Lance Turret and Lynx armoured vehicles in Queensland and export them to other countries.
"All of the (intellectual property) would be transferred to Australia and they would be built here," he said. "What Australia and Queensland would get from supporting Rheinmetall would be significant for the economy."
One of those to secure a one-on-one was DGH Engineering's general manager Dave Hackett and quality coordinator Glen Lamb (pictured, inset).
Mr Hackett said they had submitted an expression of interest and had then sent them some welding test pieces before the meeting.
"They just told us they were looking at us quite favourably," Mr Hackett said. "They certainly want to talk to us again on a more regular basis for future projects not just this one."
Mr Lamb said DGH Engineering had a good chance of securing work with Rheinmetal because it had the highest standard of welding certification in Australia (one of only two in Queensland and 17 in Australia certified with an IS3834 licence).
"We need (Rheinmetall) to get the contract first but it would be great for us to get another string to our bow,"
Rocking up to look at their companies' handy work was Troy Nebauer and Paul Adams who work for Marathon Tyres. Marathon Tyres which has a depot in Mackay already had the job from Rheinmetall for fitting the tyres on the three tanks the government has already bought.
But for these businesses to benefit the Federal Government has to elect Rheinmetall as the contract winners with a decision expected in March.
And if they don't, George Christensen said he would borrow the Boxer and drive down to Defence Minister Christopher Pyne's house and make him reverse the decision.