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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19213


Mr TOLLNER (1:57 PM) —I thank the member for Lingiari for his support for this project. I also thank my good friend the member for Fisher for drawing my attention to this opportunity to talk about the vital provision of Defence Force facilities to the growing number of Defence Force personnel already in Darwin and in the Northern Territory. I fully support the federal government's recognition that people are Defence's greatest asset and that there is a need to provide the conditions to attract and retain people with the right skills.

Darwin has a wonderful relationship with defence people. This stems from a long history—probably from what we call Australia's Pearl Harbor, and the recent turmoil in East Timor—that demonstrates our support for Defence in the Territory. To illustrate this on a personal level, a good friend who plays basketball with me, Paul Scruton, is a tank driver. He is not much of a basketballer, but he is a damn good bloke and typical of all of the Defence Force people in Darwin.

The Army's 1st Aviation Regiment has been equipped with 22 armed reconnaissance helicopters—called the Tiger—at a cost of around $1.3 billion. The unit's two reconnaissance squadrons are located at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, North Queensland, and at RAAF Base Darwin. I applaud the proposal to re-equip the unit, reorganise it and bring it together into a single location at Robertson Barracks. On behalf of the brave men and women of the Defence Force, I congratulate the federal government for moving quickly to build these facilities for re-equipment of the 1st Aviation Regiment at Robertson Barracks by mid-2005. It will be an important component of a strong Defence Force in Australia. In the electorate of Solomon we welcome the 1st Aviation Regiment to Darwin.