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Tuesday, 29 August 2000
Page: 19605

Mr Laurie Ferguson asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on June 2000:

(1) Did the Prime Minister make certain undertakings at Nyngan on 30 January 2000 regarding the continuation of Commonwealth services and Defence functions in regional areas; if so, what was the nature of those undertakings.

(2) How many civilian and military personnel are employed at Defence's ammunition platoon at Wallangarra, Qld.

(3) Is the provision of regional ammunition facilities being reviewed as part of the Commercial Support Program; if so, has Wallangarra been deleted from the list of mandated sites.

(4) Will he maintain the current functions and staff numbers at Wallangarra ammunition platoon.

Mr Moore (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) On 31 January 2000 the Prime Minister addressed a community luncheon at Nyngan, NSW. At that function, the Prime Minister said “I don't want to see any further services, government service levels withdrawn or taken away from the bush. I indicated yesterday and again this morning in Bourke that one of the things that I've asked all of my Ministers to do - and I'm in the process of writing to each of them - ... that in any future Government decisions that, in effect, a red light flashes if that Government decision involves a reduction in the delivery or an existing Commonwealth service. It doesn't mean to say you can't find different ways of delivering the same service level”.

The Prime Minister has made clear, on numerous occasions, that proposals to close down significant defence facilities in rural and regional Australia would also be subject to the same process.

(2) 6 military and 11 civilian personnel.

(3) Yes. The explosive ordnance storage facility at Wallangarra is included in the scope of the project and was categorised as a “may use” depot.

(4) The future use of the Wallangarra depot has not yet been decided.