SHOALWATER BAY MILITARY EXPANSION
Central Queensland will benefit from a plan to spend $190 million on defence infrastructure in the Rockhampton-Livingstone region in the coming years.
The announcement stems from the Turnbull Liberal-National Government’s White Paper for Defence.
The funding will upgrade the Shoalwater Bay Training Area – which is already considered one of the best sites for international military exercises in the Pacific.
This facility is located just north of Rockhampton – adjoining the Livingstone Shire.
Shoalwater Bay will be upgraded to support a range of new land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities over the next decade to 2025-26, representing an investment of up to $150 million.
An additional investment of around $40 million is planned for the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36. New facilities at Shoalwater Bay will support the introduction of new armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft in the early 2020s.
I understand the need for our troops, and visiting troops from our key partners Singapore, the United States and elsewhere, to have areas where they can conduct realistic large-scale training exercises. I also support the economic benefits that will flow to our region through the $1 billion to be invested in upgraded facilities in and around the training area over the next 10 years, along with an estimated $50 million annual injection from training operations.
Priority will be given to local businesses in the Rockhampton region in support of development and ongoing training activities, boosting regional jobs and growth. This is not an empty promise, it is written into the Memorandum of Understanding for the Defence training initiative.
I am also continuing talks with both the Defence Minister and Assistant Minister on a proposal to relocate a contingent of military warfare vehicles at Shoalwater Bay, permanently.
If it occurs, this would allow military families to be based in Rockhampton which helps to diversify the city’s workforce and is good for business and schools.
I want to assure everyone that, as with the land acquisition, I will always work for the best possible outcome for our community even if it means ruffling feathers.
I listened to the concerns of local families in early 2017. I listened to local residents and immediately relayed their concerns to my Parliamentary colleagues, including the Defence Minister. Through my efforts and support from colleagues, we were able to ensure that no forced acquisitions would take place.
I insisted that the ADF thoroughly assess the social and economic impacts of any expansion of the training area, and that the report be available for public scrutiny.
The ongoing viability of towns such as Marlborough and the economic value of beef and other primary industries in the region – and, just as important, the health and wellbeing of local families – cannot and will not be overlooked.