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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2537

Australian Defence Force


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:39): Coming from a garrison city, as I do, I have the honour of asking our energetic and effective defence minister a question. I ask the minister, can she advise the Senate how the Turnbull government's investment in Australia's Defence Force capability will benefit regional Australia and particularly my own home state of Queensland?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:39): It is fabulous to see Senator Macdonald roaring around the corridors on his scooter as he pursues his recuperation and rehabilitation. I think he has driven it all the way down from Ayr, if I'm not mistaken. I particularly want to thank the senator for his question because his efforts in advocating for the interests of Queenslanders, particularly in regional Australia, are tireless, and I can assure the senator and the Senate that Defence's positive impact on both the Australian and the Queensland economy is certainly going to continue to increase. That's thanks to the very significant $200 billion investment that this government is making in defence capability in this country over the next decade. That includes long overdue investment in both bases and facilities, many of which, as you would know, are in regional Australia.

Queensland is a critical state when it comes to the defence of our nation. It is home to over 23,000 Defence personnel and a large number of key operational and support bases, many of which are close to the part of Queensland from which Senator Macdonald hails. As we bring into service new and larger capabilities—whether they're developments likes the boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle or the new offshore patrol vessels—we will upgrade facilities across the country. Our work will continue on the implementation of the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative, which is a $2.25 billion investment in Central and North Queensland. These projects will create enormous opportunities and flow-on benefits for local businesses right across Queensland, as well as hundreds of new jobs.

I'm very proud, as the Minister for Defence, to also be delivering the Local Industry Capability Plan. It is an initiative that will ensure local businesses and local trades have the best opportunity possible to get involved in these projects, to compete for the work and to deliver locally in terms of support to defence.


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:41): Can I thank the minister for that very informative answer. You mentioned the local capability defence arrangements. As I mentioned, I come from the garrison city of Townsville. Could you indicate how the Turnbull government's investment in defence capability will ensure local businesses achieve opportunities in the area of defence procurement, local businesses and local workers? (Time expired)


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:42): It is a significant investment in defence capability and facilities in North Queensland, and the Local Industry Capability Plan, or the LICP, ensures that local businesses have the best opportunity to share in that investment. Some of the examples that I can provide to Senator Macdonald and the chamber—which includes the Local Industry Capability Plan—are the $12 million upgrade for the explosive ordnance depot at Mount Stuart, which Senator Macdonald attended with me some months ago for its announcement. There is also the $24 million upgrade for a mid-term refresh of the Townsville Field Training Area and, similarly, a $67 million program for a mid-term refresh at RAAF Base Townsville in said garrison city. Then there is the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative, and indeed over $300 million to prepare HMAS Cairns to support the basing of the increased number of the new and larger offshore patrol vessels. All of those have a Local Industry Capability Plan attached to them.


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:43): I thank the minister again for that information. I know the minister is often in Cairns and Townsville and I know the minister is also in Rockhampton often. Could the minister outline what she is doing to ensure that local businesses in the Central Queensland area also get the opportunity to benefit from these Turnbull government investments?


Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:43): Indeed, last week I was in Rockhampton with the member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, to discuss local industry involvement as per the Local Industry Capability Plan with the Shoalwater Bay Training Area remediation project and the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative. The managing contractor for the Shoalwater Bay Training Area remediation project has developed a Local Industry Capability Plan which will ensure local businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of the work arising from this project. Through the implementation of the Local Industry Capability Plan approach, the managing contractor for the Shoalwater Bay remediation has committed to sourcing 80 per cent of its construction contractors from the Livingstone and Rockhampton regions—let me repeat that: 80 per cent from the local regions around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. This absolutely confirms that the government's LICP initiative is creating local jobs and investment near our key defence facilities and enabling those local trades to strengthen themselves as well.