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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2557


Mr HURFORD (Minister for Housing and Construction)(10.29) —I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Royal Australian Air Force Base, Williamtown, New South Wales- F/A-18 Hornet facilities development.

This proposal is for the provision of facilities required to meet the need for the Tactical Fighter Force during and subsequent to the re-equipment of the force with FA18 fighter aircraft, together with works needed for the possible relocation of No. 3 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, from Butterworth, Malaysia. The main elements of the proposal are as follows: Facilities for No. 481 Maintenance Squadron; fighter unit facilities for No. 77 Squadron and No. 3 Squadron; facilities for No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit; Army Parachute Training School; administration and domestic facilities; sleeping accommodation; off-base married quarter accommodation; and, lastly, associated emergency works and services.

The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work in the reference and has recommended its construction, with the exception of the Army Parachute Training School component. That Army Parachute Training School, as previously announced to the House by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Scholes), is now to be located at Nowra, New South Wales, in line with the Government's intention to maintain Service activities in the area to offset the reduction arising from the phasing out of Navy fixed-wing aircraft. The general scope of the work proposed at Nowra is the same as that proposed for the RAAF at Williamtown. The Committee will table a supplementary report for the Parachute Training School component after further consideration of final details provided by departments.

The Committee has expressed concern about the noise impact from aircraft using the base's bombing-strafing range at nearby Salt Ash. Despite past warnings by the RAAF, small rural subdivisions have regrettably been approved in recent years in noise prone areas. Regrettably, the introduction of the FA18 aircraft will increase the level of noise in some areas. The RAAF will continue to do all it can to reduce the impact of noise. I understand that the RAAF has an impressive record of sympathetic consideration of resident's representations and that generally there is a sensible co-existence between the community and the RAAF. The Government will continue to advise State and local governments as to its concern about further residential development in the area. It will ensure review of the operational requirements for use of the range in view of the concerns expressed by the Committee. The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Cowan) has also expressed those concerns about noise impact and safety aspects, and they will be taken into consideration.

The Committee has recommended that the facilities for No. 3 Squadron, including associated new accommodation blocks, not be commenced until a decision is made on relocation of the Squadron from Butterworth. However, as facilities will need to be ready in time for any relocation, broad planning will need to be ready in time for any relocation, broad planning will continue on the basis that the Squadron will be located at Williamtown. Departments will review the construction timetables and budgetary requirements when a final decision on the relocation of that Squadron is made. The Committee has recommended construction of the work at a revised estimated cost of $98,355,000 at April 1983 prices. This reduction arises from the transfer of the parachute training element's associated land, housing and accommodation costs. If the House agrees to support this motion, planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee. I commend the motion to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.