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Wednesday, 4 November 1992
Page: 2574

Mr BEDDALL (Minister for Small Business, Construction and Customs) (4.21 p.m.) —I move:

  That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Defence Logistics Redevelopment Project—Air Force aspects.

The defence logistics redevelopment project, which was announced for the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel (Mr Bilney) in June 1990, implements a rationalised and centralised strategy of wholesale storage and distribution for the Australian Defence Force. Substantial savings will be achieved through the reduction in operating and manpower costs.

  A central part of this new warehousing strategy is a modern tri-service storage and distribution facility, the defence national storage and distribution centre, which will be established primarily at Moorebank but will also utilise some warehouse accommodation at Leichhardt, Regents Park, Bathurst and Dubbo in New South Wales. The DNSDC will accommodate most of Navy stocks, part of the Army national stocks and a small element of Air Force stocks. Concurrent with the development of the DNSDC each service will improve its regional warehousing infrastructure. The first construction element of this strategy is the Air Force component. This motion refers only to the Air Force component.

  The Air Force component will enable the relocation of the majority of Air Force stocks to bases and will involve the modernisation of storage and handling systems in warehousing accommodation at seven operational bases. This will allow the disposal of property at Tottenham, Toowoomba and Regents Park. Additionally, other activities such as one operational support unit and air training corps located at sites identified for disposal will be relocated.

  The environmental effects of the planned redevelopment works have been determined to be minimal. The works are mainly restricted to the existing buildings and facilities within the confines of existing bases. An environmental certificate of compliance has been issued. The limit of cost for the proposed works, at April 1992 prices, is $25m. It is planned that the work will go to tender in November 1992, with completion in 1993.

  In its report, the Public Works Committee agreed to the defence logistics redevelopment project—Air Force aspects, but raised the following specific issues: firstly, there should be regular surveys of the air quality in and around all defence warehouses which are clad with asbestos cement and which remain in use and if the surveys reveal airborne asbestos fibre concentrations exceed standards set by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, immediate remedial work should be carried out; secondly, warehouse 40 at Regents Park is a valuable asset and should be retained for use by defence as part of the defence national storage and distribution centre; thirdly, defence should continue discussions with Auburn Municipal Council and other planning authorities to ensure that the land which Defence proposes to sell will be used for purposes compatible with other adjacent land uses, including medium density housing.

  The Committee also recommended that Defence should provide details of the fire protection measures to the Commonwealth Fire Board for comment. Defence should ensure that optimal prices are obtained from land sales. Also, Defence should undertake further negotiations with local councils and planning authorities to ensure that when sold the uses of properties identified as surplus to defence requirements are compatible with local planning. Defence agrees with the recommendations and will take action as recommended. I thank the Committee for its work and I commend the motion to the House.