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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6440

Mr NEUMANN (4:15 PM) —I am going to ask a question to the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support about a big military establishment at Amberley, in my electorate. Probably one of the best purchases that the Australian government ever made in terms of our defence was the purchase of the land at Amberley in the 1930s, where a base was created for the Royal Australian Air Force. For decades the F111s have been based at Amberley. The ‘Flying Pigs’, as they are affectionately called, are wonderfully welcomed in our electorate. In fact, my wife’s favourite baseball cap is the F111 baseball cap. She wears it all the time. We have had a number of different aircraft based at Amberley. The Canberras were there, as were a number of other kinds of aircraft. Recently we have had the announcement that the Super Hornets are coming to Ipswich. The Super Hornets are a great addition and we look forward to them arriving. The RAAF base at Amberley is becoming a superbase. We call it ‘a superbase for a supercity’—Ipswich. That is not my catchphrase; that is the catchphrase of the mayor, Paul Pisasale, and I have adopted it.

I really welcome also, Parliamentary Secretary, the community liaison committee which has been established by the base commanding officers, with the Ipswich City Council and the local community. For a long time, whilst the local community had great affection and love for the base and what was going on at the base, that was not quite requited, if I can put it like that. The information about what was happening at the RAAF base did not flow from the base to the local community. So I know the local community is warmly appreciative of that committee being set up.

We are about to see the relocation of the Amberley State School to Yamanto. The government has given $26.83 million to the state government of Queensland for that relocation and another $2 million for that particular place at Yamanto and the aerospace park which is part of the state development attached to it. So it is an area that is really growing and going ahead.

I was very pleased to see 9FSB at Timothy Maloney Park in Ipswich on Anzac Day. They were warmly applauded by the people of Ipswich. It was great to see them. They are part of our community. They worship in our churches. They attend our schools and shop in our shopping centres. We welcome the RAAF personnel and also the Army personnel who are now based at Amberley.

My question relates to the redevelopment of the base at Amberley. It has been redeveloped across a number of years and over a number of stages. You can see at the moment that the RAAF base at Amberley is a bit like a construction site. I know you have been there, Parliamentary Secretary. You were there when we had the air show. There were about 100,000 people there, and that is an indication of just what the local community feels about the military personnel and the RAAF base at Amberley. But I really want to know what the budget means for the redevelopment. How is it going? How is the construction going? Where is it up to? When is it likely to be completed? What does it mean for the local community? Are other Army units going to be brought to Ipswich or not? I am very interested to know. The local mayor, Paul Pisasale, whom you have met on a number of occasions, Parliamentary Secretary, is keen to get this information as well. We think it is important that this information be disseminated in the electorate of Blair and particularly in Ipswich and the rural areas just outside. So I look forward to hearing what you have to say.