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Region would reap benefits form defence expansion plans

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February 17, 2012

Efforts to secure the contract for a major defence pilot training project to Sale would deliver benefits right across the Gippsland region.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and Latrobe City Major Ed Vermeulen joined State Minister for the Aviation Industry Gordon Rich-Phillips at the signing of a landmark agreement that will see a concerted community effort to secure Defence’s AIR 5428 Pilot

Training System at the East Sale RAAF Base.

Wellington and East Gippsland Shire Council's have signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to attract the contract.

Mr Chester said all of Gippsland would benefit significantly if the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System was moved to Sale.

“It’s important that we put together a concerted team effort to secure the defence pilot training facility at East Sale,” Mr Chester said.

“If East Sale is the successful bidder, the benefits will flow to Latrobe Valley and beyond with the need to upgrade the current airfield to provide additional services.

“There will obviously be opportunities during the construction phase; and the project would bring an expected $20 million a year into the Gippsland economy in salaries alone.”

Tenders for the pilot training facility are expected to be called in the second half of 2012.

The MoU comes just days after the House of Representatives approved a $185 million redevelopment of facilities at the East Sale RAAF base.

Mr Chester said an upgrade of the runways, air traffic control towers and staff amenities held the base in good stead for future expansion.

The $185 million upgrade still requires approval from the Senate in coming weeks before it can proceed.

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