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Senator showcases super bases -

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Senator showcases superbases

David Mark reported this story on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 12:26:00

ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Defence Minster this morning outlined a plan for the Defence Force to
build "superbases" for the Nation's armed services.

The Opposition has been calling on the Government to release a Defence report which identifies
hundreds of millions of dollars worth of potential budget savings that could be made by closing
redundant military bases.

The Department has released the executive summary of the report under freedom of information laws,
but not the details on which bases it identified.

But while the Government says it will be keeping the report secret, the Minister for Defence,
Senator John Faulkner, did reveal some of the report's details to David Mark.

JOHN FAULKNER: Well basically it says in that paragraph that in relation to the proposal by Mr
Pappas that Defence should establish a superbase model.

Mr Pappas has said in his executive summary that estimated yearly savings from a superbase model
would increase over time and could reach a total of some $700 million to $1.05 billion, that's in
total, by the year 2035.

So that's over the next 26 years. But just so we've got absolute clarity about these figures, those
dollar amounts are in 2008-dollars.

So that's the part of the Pappas report that the FOI decision maker decided to redact or delete but
as I said I've made a decision to make that public.

DAVID MARK: Has he identified where this super-base or these super-bases, I suppose, could be and
what bases would be closed in order to create that base?

JOHN FAULKNER: No not at all. The Defence White Paper of course talks about strategic basing
principles and talks about the sorts of principles that would guide the management of the Defence
estate over time.

And of course as you've heard it's a very long period of time. But there are a range of principles
that are important and the Government is very clear about these things.

We say that basing locations should be aligned with national and defence strategic requirements,
that Defence should consider consolidating units to fewer, larger and more sustainable multi-user
bases over time.

Bases should be located in family-friendly areas. Base locations should enable the continued
provision of reserve capability for Defence into the future.

And where it's possible, that bases should be clustered near strategic infrastructure and with
industry to promote knowledge sharing and innovation.

Well all this is clear from the Defence White Paper.

So it is critically important and it always has been frankly to balance the cost of defence bases
against the strategic role that they play in the defence of the country.

But just so we're absolutely clear about this, no decisions have been made at all about how the
Defence White Paper commitment would be addressed.

No decisions have been made about the closure of any bases. And I stress with you, of course this
is a long term commitment and it is a long term issue.

DAVID MARK: When will those decisions be made?

JOHN FAULKNER: Well look at some time in the future. There appears to be a bit of a
misunderstanding that the savings that Mr Pappas has identified in his report might be savings that
are included in the Defence strategic reform program savings.

They are not. They are not. So the Defence strategic reform project savings are certainly not
dependant or in fact associated with this issue at all.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner speaking to David Mark.