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Wednesday, 27 June 2001
Page: 28776

Mr NAIRN (9:49 AM) —On Monday of last week, I informed the residents of Queanbeyan that for quite some time now—in fact, over a five-year period—I have been lobbying for the operational headquarters for Australia's defence forces to be located in Queanbeyan. From the operational headquarters, the Department of Defence will coordinate the combined forces, maritime, land and air force elements for operational deployments such as those that occurred in East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomons. It is a project that has been on the Department of Defence's drawing board for a number of years. Rather than making my intentions and representations public, instead I chose to work quietly behind the scenes and wait until the project actually became a reality and could be confirmed. That certainly occurred in the most recent budget, and it was part of the white paper as well. I also waited until I knew that Queanbeyan had a good chance of being considered for this strategic project.

I now believe that Queanbeyan has a good chance with respect to this project. We have got the space; there are numerous sites around Queanbeyan which are large enough for this facility. The Lanyon Drive area, close to Jerrabomberra, is just one of those possible sites. Our local contractors are more than capable of being involved in the construction of such a project. Our residents and local traders are ready to put out the welcome mat for a work force injection of many hundreds of staff.

While a number of locations in New South Wales are under consideration, I believe there is strong support within the federal government and the Department of Defence for this strategic facility to be based in the Canberra region. Many people believe that Queanbeyan is the perfect site. The support I have received from the Queanbeyan City Council has been integral to our strong position in vying for this project. I refer to Mayor Frank Pangallo and his public servant relocation taskforce, which includes businessmen Rod Studholme and Bernie Baz, together with the council's general manager, Hugh Percy, and the council's manager of economic development and tourism, Simon Mitchell-Taverner. I also thank Joe Murtagh and the Queanbeyan Age for their excellent reporting on the benefits that projects such as this would bring to the region.

A decision on the location is expected to be considered by cabinet in the not-too-distant future. Certainly, in the weeks leading up to that decision, I will continue to push to the utmost Queanbeyan's strengths and qualities, and the reasons why the operational headquarters for Australia's defence forces should be located there.