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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21674

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (4:21 PM) —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: RAAF Base Richmond Reinvestment Project, Richmond, NSW.

The Department of Defence proposes to undertake a reinvestment project at the Royal Australian Air Force Base Richmond near Richmond, New South Wales. RAAF Base Richmond is a major operational base that supports the delivery of airlift capability for the Australian Defence Force. It is currently the home of the airlift group, incorporating three operational squadrons and one training squadron of Hercules and Boeing 707 aircraft. Army units that are integrally linked with the airlift capability are also based at or at times supported from RAAF Base Richmond. The base contains one of the major airfields of Defence and is manned by about 2,500 service and civilian personnel.

This project is not a base redevelopment but rather a limited capital reinvestment to protect Commonwealth assets and maintain existing operational capabilities until such time as a government decision is made about the longer term future of the base. The aim of the project is to ensure that RAAF Base Richmond can continue to deliver operational capability to meet government objectives. This project seeks to improve, as far as practicable, safety and amenity deficiencies to maintain existing capabilities for the medium term. The proposed works focus on certain deficiencies in facilities and infrastructure that support capability. The project seeks to address the critical aspects of the engineering services and working and training accommodation. The proposed facilities are necessary to enable RAAF Base Richmond to perform its role in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Over the envisaged construction period of three years, an average of about 50 personnel will be directly employed on construction activities. In addition, it is anticipated that construction will generate further job opportunities off site in the prefabrication of components and the manufacture and distribution of materials. In its report, the Public Works Committee has recommended that this project proceed. The estimated out-turn cost of the proposed works is $35 million. Subject to parliamentary approval, the construction will start mid-2004 and be completed by December 2006. On behalf of the government, I would like to thank the committee for its report, and I commend the motion to the House.