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Speech at the opening of Fairbairn RAAF Canberra Airmens and Airwomen's accommodation facilities



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SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, IAN SINCLAIR AT THE OPENING OF, FAIRBAIRN RAAF CANBERRA AIRMENS AND AIRWOMEN'S ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES, MONDAY, 16 AUGUST AT 11.30AM. .

The. Government is concerned that the conditions of service

available to young men and women entering today's Defence Force

are commensurate with the standards enjoyed by their counterparts

in civilian life.

Such standards must also pay due recognition to the high levels of

skill and personal contributions demanded of Servicemen in our

increasingly technological Services. ■

Consistent with this, some quite significant improvements were

announced earlier this year in the standards to apply to houses

provided for married Service personnel, and a substantial program

for new housing to these standards is already under way.

You will recall that these standards for married quarters had the

purpose of aligning accommodation for our married servicemen with

equivalent standards in the community.

The Government announced at the time that it was treating the

upgrading.of these standards with the utmost urgency.

A major step was the increase in standards for married senior

N C O 1s who were placed in a new housing group and upgrading the

standard for junior N C O 's and private servicemen.

Some increases in the size of all new housing by up to 10 sq metres

was agreed along with providing studies for more senior officers,

separate dining rooms for senior NCOS's, informal eating areas for

lower ranks, better, kitchens and extensions in cupboard and storage

space.

The Government believes that the provision of such accommodation

is vital to the maintenance of morale for career servicemen and

women and their dependents. .

As far as the Servicemen's living-in accommodation is concerned,

however, much that is provided around Australia is still of the

old barracks style that was common during World War II.

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The Government,is doing its best to steadily replace those

unsatisfactory facilities, and the building that we have inspected

today is an example of the very fine standard of facility that.is

now being built. .

The comparison with the old barracks style is all too obvious, and

I am personally most impressed with the quality of living and .

amenity which this type of accommodation will provide. .

I note that this building has been designed against a target cost

system, which, has given the designers not only a challenge, but also

a corresponding flexibility to improve the liveability of the .

complex with design ingenuity and judicious choice of materials. .

I compliment the designers of this building on the result. -

More living-in quarters of this type, although not necessarily

of this design, are now being built around Australia. '

At the new Army apprentices school at Bonegilla near Albury for

example $30 million are being spent on accommodation replacing the

old school located in the old wartime barracks at Balcombe in '

Victoria.

Another major replacement program on the drawing board is the new

accommodation at Woodside in South Australia where $17 million is

to be spent to replace poor conditions there.

Major new projects for new accommodation altogether are underway

at the Defence Force Academy here in Canberra and at the RAAF Base

in Wagga. ■ ■ ■ ' · · . ■ . ■ . ·

Initial requirements for these new quarters here in Canberra at

Fairbairn were identified some time ago.

Unfortunately proposals put forward by the Defence Department in

the middle to late 70s were held up by Treasury because of concern

over surplus Hostel accommodation elsewhere in Canberra.

The matter was raised in Parliament and there was some critical press

comment on the situation a couple of years ago which again

highlighted the need for new or improved live-in accommodation.

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This led to a clear recognition of a need at Fairbairn and the calling

of tenders in 1981 resulted in contract being let in March 1981

for just under. $1 million with the building being completed in

April of this year.

The design of these new quarters which will accommodate eighty

personnel is really of an excellent standard with its modular form,

each module comprising four bedrooms, ablution and laundry

facilities, and a small common room. Modules are contained in

five two storey buildings arranged as-:·"cluster..'housihg' which : .

certainly provides a pleasant environment as well as a functional

facility. ■ ■

On this, the first occasion of my addressing members of the Royal

Australian Air Force since my return from South East Asi a , I

compliment you on the High standards that you are maintaining in

Australia and abroad. . .

Without doubt, the quality of a serviceman's performance can be

measured 'by his professionalism and his work surrounds.

These new facilities being opened at the RAAF Base, Fairbairn

are a reflection of this. .

.. ■ / n ■ "

The Government is committed to ensuring adequate housing and

facilities for those of you who are members of the Airforce. Often

this is difficult to achieve as times change as do minimal standards.

■ " vt -

At Butterworthy as here, it is those of you who concerned.as

members of the RAAF, who contribute significantly to. your environment.

There,CDFS, the Secretary and I have had an opportunity to review

the base prior to the return to Australia of No. 75 Squadron now

based there . ; ■ >

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Future deployment of RAAF personnel in Butterworth has not:yet

been determined. However, in discussions with the Prime Minister

of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir, who is also the Defence Minister we

have agreed that the matter should be for further consideration

in 1984 when the re-equipment of Australia's fighter squadrons

with the new FA18 is more advanced, · · ' .

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Australia's partnership role in Malaysia, one of the five power

defence nations, I have been assured is greatly valued. In

political terms, the nations of ASEAN are recognised as of prime

importance in our region.

Through our defence cooperation program Australia is contributing

importantly in assisting their defence capability. .

Equally, with the visible presence of the RAAF Mirage and Orion P3C

long range maritime patrol aircraft we are seen as contributing

to the strength of the region against external threat.

For your part you and your colleagues within the RAAF play a

vital role in ensuring that.this is done at a totally professional

level. . ·

For this, I commend you. . " 1 .

It now gives me great pleasure to declare open this new.

accommodation complex.