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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 3019

Senator HAMER —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. The Minister will be aware of the study by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence of the proposed Army acquisitions of land in New South Wales and the fact that the Committee was far from persuaded, to put it mildly, that the acquisitions were justified. I ask: What is the status of the proposed government land grab in the Cobar region?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am very pleased to be able to advise Senator Hamer that the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley, has just announced that the Government will not proceed with the proposal to establish an Army manoeuvre training area in the Cobar region in the central west of New South Wales. The Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Peter Gration, has recommended that the proposal should not proceed and the Government will accept this recommendation. Mr Beazley's statement, which has just been released, goes on as follows:

Lieutenant-General Gration's recommendation was based on a review by Army of its training area requirements. This review has concluded that training priorities have changed since the Cobar proposal was first initiated.

The recent review of Australia's defence capabilities by Mr Paul Dibb has resulted in emphasis on training in northern Australia, particularly on training for low level contingencies.

This reduces the Army's emphasis on mechanised training, particularly at brigade level.

Consideration is currently being given in the short term to the relocation of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Sydney to northern Australia and a brigade from Sydney relocated to northern Australia in the medium term.

These considerations have 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.

The New South Wales Government has been advised of the decision not to proceed at Cobar and letters will be sent immediately to the affected land owners.