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Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Page: 1144


Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (16:30): by leave—I appreciate being given leave to speak. I would like to briefly welcome today's announcement and the report from the Public Works Committee, because it does cement the role of the East Sale RAAF Base as a key strategic defence asset. In doing so I would like to pass on my regards to the Chair of the Public Works Committee, the member for Page, and to all committee members for taking the time to come to Sale and hear evidence, which I think was very strong and very supportive. It was very important that the community had the opportunity to see the parliament at work. It was a great thing that the Public Works Committee did come to Sale and listen to the local community; it was a very worthwhile process.

It is hard to stress enough how important this project is to the future of Gippsland. The East Sale RAAF Base has a long history in the Gippsland region and has a very strong relationship with the local community. As I told the hearing in Sale, it is a mutually beneficial relationship. I think the Defence Force has done well through its association with the Sale and the broader Gippsland community. Also, Sale businesses have benefited from the relationship and stand ready to benefit again into the future.

It is critical that as this program is rolled out at East Sale there are opportunities for local businesses to share in the works program. That is something that was made very apparent during the evidence that was given to the Public Works Committee. There is a great deal of enthusiasm throughout the community to make sure that, wherever possible, local contractors do have the opportunity to at least tender for works. Again, in the longer term I think it is mutually beneficial for the Defence Force to make sure that the surrounding community has the capacity to deliver important services to make the base a success into the future.

It is certainly a good news day for the broader Gippsland community. I do thank the committee for its work. I assure the people of Gippsland I will continue to work with local, state and federal governments to promote the East Sale facility as an ideal location for further developments.

Debate adjourned