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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 93

Mr LINDSAY (8:35 PM) —Tonight I pay tribute to the 3rd Brigade of the Australian Defence Force. The 3rd Brigade is Australia’s premier brigade. It is located in Townsville. Townsville is the garrison city of our country, and the 3rd Brigade has a very significant role in the order of battle in the Australian Defence Force. It is an infantry brigade that is expanding, and that is a good thing. Currently, around 5½  thousand serving members in uniform in the Australian Defence Force serve in Townsville. They are a very significant component of the economy of our city. Of course, it is not just the salaries but the housing component and the services component that contribute enormously to the very diverse economy we have in Townsville, unlike that of Cairns—and I see the member for Leichhardt is with us tonight. Cairns—and it is not Cairns’s fault—suffers from a fairly narrow economy, but the economy of Townsville is very diverse, Townsville being a minerals processor; an exporter, through its port; and a centre for education, commerce and communications. Indeed, it is the capital city of Northern Australia. Townsville is the largest city north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

But what is interesting and what disappoints me—and the member for Leichhardt will be interested in this—is that if you ask people which is Australia’s largest tropical city, the first thing they say is ‘Cairns’. I understand why that is so, but it is unfair because Townsville is significantly larger. Even though Cairns may have a very good local member, Townsville is significantly larger than Cairns or Darwin and certainly is the centre of the universe in relation to tropical Australia.

Currently, Townsville is suffering from a bit of rain falling. It has been falling for the last two weeks and Townsville is awash, whereas the southern part of the country is in fact very dry. It seems unfair, but I think it underlines that, in the not too distant future, we will see people move to the north, because that is the way things are going. We will populate the north, and that is a good thing.

Returning to the 3rd Brigade, it is currently commanded by Brigadier Stuart Smith. He took up that command this year and he is a very fine officer. The 3rd Brigade comprises the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, plus a number of other regiments supported by the 5th Aviation Regiment at RAAF Garbutt, which houses Australia’s helicopter fleet—the Chinooks, the Black Hawks and soon-to-be MRH90s. The capacity and capability that exists in Townsville is fantastic. We have the most impressive field training area at High Range, which 3rd Brigade uses to train. Certainly, when it comes to which is the premier brigade in Australia—is it the 1st Brigade in Darwin or the 3rd Brigade in Townsville?—clearly 3rd Brigade wins hands down.

We are about to embark on the Enhanced Land Force, which will see the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment move from Holsworthy to Townsville. It will see about $385 million of new work undertaken at Lavarack Barracks. It will see 285 new homes built by the Defence Housing Authority in Townsville. It will see 500 new single-soldier accommodation units for the Project Single LEAP—Phase 2 that will occur in Townsville. This means a massive capital injection into the city. Townsville is the place where it is happening in Northern Australia. I am very proud to be the federal member, and I will continue to support the Australian Defence Force, the values that they have and the work they do in defending our country and our values.