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Deploying Australia's Navy to secure our nation

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Campaign Media Release

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith

Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon


The Rudd Labor Government will establish a Future Navy Taskforce to map out the next steps in modernising the Australian Navy fleet including potential expansion of the naval presence in key regional centres.

The Taskforce will advise the Government on implementing recent high-level reviews which have identified strategic and operational advantages from basing more Navy ships in Australia’s north and north-west.

Advice from the Taskforce will inform critical decisions to ensure the Navy’s ships are deployed in the right locations to protect Australia’s interests.

The Federal Labor Government has been modernising our Navy’s ships since 2007.

Now we are ensuring that as these new vessels come into service there is a long term strategic plan to ensure they protect Australia’s national interests.

Our modern Navy will need to respond quickly to the security challenges of the future and to work with other arms of the Australian Defence Force.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of Defence, with the Chief of Navy as an ex officio member. There will also be representation from defence industry and business.

The creation of the Taskforce follows recommendations of the 2012 Defence Force Posture Review and the 2013 Defence White Paper including:

• Moving some or all of Fleet Base East at Garden Island in Sydney Harbour to new bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns and Perth.

• Establishing a base at Brisbane for Future Submarines and new Amphibious Assault Ships, also known as Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), the largest ships ever built for the Australian Navy.

• Developing Brisbane and Fleet Base West in Perth as home ports for new Air Warfare Destroyers (AWDs) and LHDs.

• Upgrading and expanding bases in Cairns, Darwin, Sydney and Perth to accommodate smaller warships and their replacements.

• Expanding naval facilities in Perth so Fleet Base West continues as the main home port for Australia’s submarines and can be a home port for the Future Frigate class vessel and forward deploy at least one AWD.

• Examining investment in developing Broome as a forward operating base, in consultation with Australian Customs and Border Protection.

The Taskforce’s advice will ensure Australia has a long-term plan for defence capabilities as global economic activity and strategic interests shift to our region.

It will improve Australia’s ability to sustain military operations in our immediate neighbourhood and the wider Asia-Pacific.

It will ensure the ADF can carry out effective operations in Australia’s north by basing more of the Navy’s fleet closer to key Army units with amphibious capabilities.

These changes will also be good news for regional economies and jobs.

Relocation of elements of Fleet Base East to Queensland and Western Australia would deliver economic benefits not only for those States but also for New South Wales and Sydney.

It has the potential to open up Garden Island for exciting new uses such as providing berths for the burgeoning cruise ship industry and development of inner-city commercial precincts, public spaces and tourist attractions.

The new deployments under consideration would also create jobs in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Perth and Broome.

Defence’s presence and port facilities in those cities would be expanded, generating opportunities for local business and industry in supplying and supporting new naval bases.

Protecting Australia’s national security is a fundamental responsibility of Government.

Since 2007 Labor has been modernising the Navy’s ships - now we are ensuring they will be deployed where they can best protect the nation.



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A re-elected Rudd Labor Government will establish a Future Navy Taskforce that will provide advice to the Government on implementing the recommendations of the Australian Defence Force Posture Review (FPR).

The key recommendations that the Taskforce will advise on include:

 Establishing a supplementary east coast fleet base at Brisbane for the Future Submarine and large amphibious ships.

 Develop options involving Brisbane and Fleet Base West to homeport the Air Warfare Destroyers and Landing Helicopter Docks.

 Develop options to expand wharf capacity and support facilities at Fleet Base West to:

o Support major surface combatant capability and operations by:

 Providing adequate infrastructure and facilities, including missile loading and maintenance facilities, to homeport the Future Frigate class and forward deploy at least one Air Warfare Destroyer.

 Ensuring such facilities are also able to be used for deployments and operations in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean by US Navy major surface combatants and aircraft carriers.

o Support submarine capability and operations by:

 Enabling Fleet Base West to continue as the primary submarine homeport when the expanded Future Submarine fleet enters service.

 Ensuring such facilities are also able to be used by US Navy submarines.

 Plan to upgrade or expand bases to accommodate minor war vessels including patrol boats, landing craft and hydrographic vessels and their replacements including:

o Upgrades or expansion of bases at Darwin and Cairns.


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o Upgrades at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney.

o Upgrades required at Fleet Base West to be able to support OCV mine countermeasures operations.

 Examine, in consultation with Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, options involving investment to enhance Broome as a forward operating base.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of Defence, with the Chief of Navy as an ex officio member. There will also be representation from defence industry and business.

This decision ensures that Australia has a long term plan for our future defence capabilities, particularly in the North and West, and our ability to sustain high tempo operations in the immediate neighbourhood and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

The implementation of these recommendations will ensure Australia’s Naval Forces are placed in the right places to be able to quickly respond to the many and varied challenges that will confront our Nation in the century ahead.

This announcement is also good news for the economies of Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Townsville, Cairns and Broome.


Fleet Base East (FBE) at Garden Island currently supports a large part of Navy’s active fleet assets.

The 2013 Defence White Paper (DWP) and FPR did note that strategic factors are weighted towards a north and north-west disposition of assets and that, in the longer-term, an alternative location to the north on the east coast might offer operational advantage by being closer to Army units and operational areas while also, over time, enhancing capability sustainment requirements.

A re-elected Rudd Labor Government will establish a Future Navy Taskforce to provide advice to the Government on implementing recommendations from the FPR and 2013 DWP that ensure naval force posture planning optimises Australia’s ability to respond to threats and shape the strategic transformation of the region.

Future Navy Taskforce

The Taskforce, whose work is expected to take 24 months, will:

 Examine the feasibility of moving some or all of FBE to a combination of Brisbane, Fleet Base West, Townsville or Cairns, including the benefits, operational implications, costs, timelines, and risks.

 Provide advice on the most cost effective options, alternative sources of funding and implementation.

The Taskforce will be asked to include staff from Infrastructure Australia, the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance and Deregulation, and other relevant agencies and departments.


Election 13 Kevin Rudd and Labor

Future Use of Garden Island

We will establish an advisory body that will be asked, once the work of the Taskforce is completed, to consider issues relating to the future use of Garden Island including public/green space, heritage preservation, small scale naval facilities, commercial and tourism usage.

Membership of the Garden Island Taskforce will include the NSW Government, local government, Tourism and Transport Forum, Defence and the Committee for Sydney and the Sydney Business Chamber.


The cost of establishing the Taskforce and planning work is $5 million and will be met from existing research and planning capacity across Government.


The relocation of some or all of FBE to Queensland could offer clear operational and other advantages, including:

 Brisbane is an advantageous geographical location for transit to potential operating areas for both submarines and amphibious ships, to amphibious mounting bases at Darwin and Townsville, and to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area;

 Bringing the Navy’s assets closer to the Army’s future amphibious capability (consistent with Army’s ‘Plan Beersheba’) and operational and training areas;

 Promoting in the medium to longer term, strategic, economic and social benefits in both New South Wales and Queensland;

 Addressing the capacity pressures at Garden Island, both now and into the future from encroachment and commercial sector pressures, including the cruise ship industry’s requests for berth access; and

 Permitting the reclaiming of some or all of Garden Island for use as a significant public space, an inner city commercial precinct, and an attractive place for tourism, including cruise ship access.