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Doubts over another pre-election Reith promise.

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Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

5 June 2003


Evidence from Defence officials today confirmed that the future of the $42 million project to transfer the RAAF Training College to East Sale is in severe doubt.

Shortly before the last election then Minister for Defence Peter Reith claimed that the relocation would commence in 2002 and be completed before the end of 2004.

The project was supposed to transfer the Training College elements based at RAAF Point Cook to RAAF East Sale. But the relocation has not even started, and it now appears that the College will instead be moved to Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

This is bad news for the people of Gippsland, as well as the local National Party MP Peter McGauran.

As recently as 14 May, Mr McGauran claimed that the Howard Government would honour its pre-election commitment for expansion of the East Sale RAAF Base.

Even though the project is already running 12 months late, Mr McGauran claimed that the base ‘will not just be maintained, it will be upgraded’ and that locals would not have to wait much longer before the upgrade began.

This assurance came despite Defence Minister Robert Hill first raising doubts about the project in August last year.

In Senate Estimates today the Minister further distanced himself from the project, suggesting that Mr McGauran may have long wait ahead of him.

This is just another example of the Howard Government promising one thing to buy votes during an election campaign, but doing another when the time comes to deliver.

Labor calls on the Howard Government to come clean with the people of Gippsland about whether it has broken its promise to relocate the RAAF Training College to East Sale.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617