Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry has called on Australia’s defence leaders to bring forward an important business case and social impact study into expansion of Shoalwater Bay.
Ms Landry said she was working hard to ensure the voice of farmers, business owners and workers is heard by defence leaders.
“I am asking the Minister for Defence and senior military leaders to bring forward an analysis of the social impact and clearer business case as a quickly as possible to give landholders, small business owners and workers in the area a clearer picture of exactly what is going to happen and how it will impact on them,” Ms Landry said.
Ms Landry said she had met with some property owners and small businesses in the Marlborough district recently and had fielded many concerns about as yet ‘unknown’ details of the proposed $1billion Shoalwater expansion, in conjunction with Singapore.
“While the defence investment is significant and important to Australia, local people are bringing to light some serious human, emotional and economic impacts and they are telling me that this will upturn their lives as a result of the proposed expansion.
All of these concerns need to be a priority for defence leaders to assess, consider and act upon. Local people want a much clearer picture of what is going to happen” Ms Landry said.
Ms Landry said:
“I am insisting that the ADF thoroughly assess the social and economic impacts of any expansion of the training area, and that this report be available for public scrutiny. I urge them to make the impact on local people an urgent and key priority.
I want to assure everyone that I will continue to work for the best possible outcome for communities potentially affected.
I am listening to local residents and relaying their concerns to my Parliamentary colleagues, including Defence Minister Marise Payne.
I drove the Stanage Road just a few weeks ago to talk to residents about local issues and I visited landholders and small businesses in the Marlborough district before Christmas.
This was specifically to talk to business operators in the town and to property owners about the impact on them and the process the ADF is currently going through in developing expansion plans.
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, and also 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.
However, the ongoing viability of towns such as Marlborough and the economic value of beef and other primary industries in the region and the health and wellbeing of local families – cannot be overlooked.
The past few weeks have seen the initial round of consultations by the ADF, with a second round planned for early 2017 ahead of more detailed planning by ADF during the year. Throughout this process, I will continue to be in constant contact with the Defence Minister, and in turn ensure that the ADF keep local residents fully informed of plans and progress.
I initially found out about general details of the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore in late May (2016), the afternoon before everyone else, through a government briefing.
Naturally, the benefits of extra troops from Singapore and a $2.25 billion defence injection for Queensland was a major announcement that I and our business community welcomed
However, the underlying serious consequences of acquiring more land, social issues, jobs in rural communities; and the wider economic impact on property owners and Mum and Dad run businesses in the Marlborough township was brought to my attention in more recent times.
Landholders began to flag their most serious concerns with me, about the time defence sent them letters to invite them to discuss the expansion, one on one.
As stated, I am listening to local residents and relaying their concerns to my Parliamentary colleagues, including Defence Minister Marise Payne. I continue to engage with local people and industries in the district.