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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6441

Dr KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support and Parliamentary Secretary for Water) (4:18 PM) —I thank the honourable member for his question. I am well aware of the honourable member’s interest in the defence base at Amberley, not just in relation to the economic benefits that it brings to the region. He has had a keen interest in the welfare of the defence personnel on that base. He is acutely interested in the issues to do with the support of defence families and community interaction with that base. It has been a great pleasure working with the member for Blair, attending the base and meeting the Ipswich City Council. I must commend it as a fantastic council with a tremendous spirit of cooperation and an understanding of the benefits to be had from a good, sound relationship with its defence base. I know the member for Herbert will have had experiences similar to that in relation to Lavarack Barracks and the defence facilities in Townsville, where there is a similar fantastic attitude from the community towards the base.

This coming financial year the government will invest around $200 million in upgrading facilities and infrastructure at RAAF Base Amberley. Since 2005 the government has committed around $1 billion in capital works funding to support the long-term operation of the base. That is both this and the previous government. RAAF Base Amberley is the largest operational RAAF base in the country and it has a significant capacity to support air operations and considerable space to accommodate the expansion in Australian Defence Force activities. The current program of capital works includes improvements to the working and living accommodation for ADF personnel and new facilities linked to the government’s Enhanced Land Force initiative. The works at RAAF Base Amberley also include new facilities to support the introduction into service of the C17 Globemaster III aircraft, a fantastic capability for the ADF, and the FA18F Super Hornet. Amberley will also include facilities for additional RAAF airfield defence guards and the Army’s 21st Construction Squadron and 9FSB.

During 2009-10 the construction workforce at RAAF Amberley is expected to range between 500 and 1,000 people. I think members would agree that that is an extremely significant impact on the local economy and, particularly during this time of economic challenge, these will be welcome jobs indeed. The government’s capital works investment at RAAF Base Amberley will be a great boost for South-East Queensland’s economy by providing job opportunities for subcontractors and suppliers, and the government is looking forward to our service personnel working in a more efficient, more effective facility which will enable a higher degree of capability and enhanced working conditions.

I might also say that our defence members prize and value their posting to Amberley. It is seen as one of the more attractive locations and for that reason alone it plays an important part in our long-term strategy in recruitment and retention as a base that will feature large in the concept of the superbase with the concentration of assets. So certainly it has a longstanding and permanent future in the position, the posture, the structure of this Defence organisation, and the welcoming attitude of the council and the community has made that an even smoother process and a prospect for future cooperation which is only full of promise. I commend the member on his liaison between the community, the base and the council and look forward to a number of years of good cooperation with him and the community.