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Tuesday, 25 September 2001
Page: 31381

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (4:30 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 Townsville redevelopment Stage 2, Townsville.

The Department of Defence proposes to undertake stage 2 of the redevelopment of the Royal Australian Air Force Base, Towns-ville, Queensland. RAAF Base Townsville is one of a chain of airfields maintained for defence and surveillance of the northern areas of Australia. RAAF Base Townsville, together with RAAF Base Scherger, provides operational and support facilities for the air defence of North Queensland and its approaches. Its primary role is to serve as a deployment base for combat aircraft during a contingency and as an airhead for 3rd Brigrade, the major land component of the Australian Ready Deployment Force.

The main focus of the $70.1 million first stage of the base redevelopment, which is due for completion mid next year, is to provide new operational facilities and replace current operational support facilities. Those works include the provision of aircraft ordnance loading facilities, a vehicle maintenance facility and associated infrastructure.

The stage 2 redevelopment facilities are necessary to enable RAAF Base Townsville, with its Air Force and Army operational and supporting units, to perform its role in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The proposed redevelopment will also address issues like age and deterioration of the current facilities, functional and occupational health and safety considerations that contribute to the unsuitability of many facilities.

The proposed redevelopment would enhance the overall effectiveness of the RAAF Base Townsville base units by grouping related base functions, providing facilities that reflect the work practices and functional relationships of the organisation, improving morale by providing working accommodation to contemporary standards, providing efficient maintenance and storage areas complete with environmental controls and alleviating occupational health and safety problems stemming from occupation of cramped and temporary accommodation.

The proposed stage 2 works will upgrade air movement facilities, provide working and transit accommodation, provide messing facilities and enhance the base infrastructure. The estimated out-turn cost of the proposed works is $72.5 million. In its report, the committee has recommended that this project proceed. The Department of Defence agrees with the recommendations of the committee and, subject to parliamentary approval, construction will start early next year and will be completed by late 2004. Our colleague the honourable member for Herbert has been a very strong advocate and supporter of this redevelopment. I commend him for his hard work on behalf of his constituents. In conclusion, on behalf of the government I thank the committee for its support. I commend the motion to the House.

Question resolved in the affirmative.