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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3967

Mr FREE —Will the Minister for Defence advise the House of the current status of the proposals to establish an Army manoeuvre training area at Cobar in New South Wales?

Mr BEAZLEY —The Chief of the General Staff, General Gration, has recommended that the proposal should not proceed. The Government has decided to accept that recommendation. General Gration's recommendation was based on a review by the Army of its training area requirements. This review has concluded that training priorities have changed since the Cobar proposal was first initiated. A recent review of Australia's defence capabilities by Paul Dibb has resulted in an emphasis on training in northern Australia, particularly on training for low level contingencies. That reduces, therefore, the Army's emphasis on mechanised training particularly at brigade level. Consideration is now being given in the short term to the relocation of the Second Cavalry Regiment from Sydney to northern Australia, in Darwin, and relocating a brigade from Sydney to northern Australia in the medium term. These considerations have obviously reduced the potential training value of the proposed Cobar manoeuvre area, and I have directed Army to examine the requirement for training areas in northern Australia. I have sent notification of this decision to the New South Wales Government, and affected land owners will be informed as soon as possible.