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Wednesday, 9 October 1985
Page: 884


Senator MICHAEL BAUME(12.01) —I support the motion moved by Senator Mason in two specific ways. First I deal with the quite incorrect assertion by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Gareth Evans, that there was growing local concern in the Singleton area about the location of the Army camp there. That is simply untrue. The facts of this matter must be presented properly to the Senate. I quote from some publications that have been circulated to honourable senators, which I think the Minister should be aware of, but which apparently he chose to ignore in making his totally false assertion to the Senate. I quote first from a publication by the Army for Singleton Group which describes itself as follows:

The Army for Singleton Group has been formed to express community support for the Army in Singleton, and to reinforce the Singleton Shire Council's submission for retention of the Infantry Centre at Singleton . .

The Group fully supports the establishment of the Senate Select Committee now proposed, and will use every endeavour to ensure that Australia's National Defence needs are best met by recognising and financing the Army's real needs for upgrading of mobility, equipment, ammunition and vital supplies, rather than spending hundreds of millions of dollars on unjustified `land grabs'.

This publication demonstrates community support for the Army in Singleton which the Minister curiously chose to ignore or to pretend did not exist. I also quote from a submission by the Singleton Shire Council which underlines its desire for the retention and expansion of the Singleton Army base rather than the move to Bathurst-Orange. It claims that the co-location of the Schools of Infantry and Artillery are quite possible in the Singleton area. The Council's submission in a letter dated 8 October 1985 states:

Council has continually drawn attention to the obvious economic and strategic advantages of expanding the existing Singleton Army Base to accommodate the Schools--

that is, both the Infantry and Artillery Schools-

However, to date the Government has failed to carry out a thorough and objective assessment of this alternative . . . The economic and social dislocation this move--

that is, away from Singleton-

would cause has to be evaluated and appropriate alternative industries established in Singleton, if the community is to be adequately compensated for the loss of the Infantry Centre . . . Council believes that the Singleton site offers the most attractive solution in terms of cost effective use of resources, suitability for infantry training needs and community acceptance of the Army.

The Council's views and submission were not formed in isolation. The Council sought the views of organisations, individuals, semi-government bodies and community groups throughout the region. As a result of collecting those views the Council annexed a table to its submission. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a condensed version of a table outlining community responses to the question of retaining or expanding the Singleton Army base.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-

SINGLETON SHIRE COUNCIL

Summary of letters or submissions received

In favour or not opposing the retention and expansion of the Singleton Army Base

For/

Organisation/Group

Date

Comment

Opposing

Government &Semi-Government Bodies

1. Department of Mineral Resources

10.9.84

No objection to expansion providing no sterilization of mineral resources and should be able to see mining and the army coexist.

. .

2. Hunter Development Board...

12.7.84

Expressing concern at economic impact of army relocation and supports retention of army at Singleton.

F

3. Forestry Commission of N.S.W....

2.10.84

Advocates continued army passive use of Forest without need to acquire. Opposes acquisition of commercially viable timbered land under the Crown.

. .

4. Hunter Valley Conservation Trust

12.10.84

Would not unnecessarily create an impact on resources, however studies of impact necessary.

. .

5. Natural Trust of Australia...

3.10.84

Supports addition of reclaimed army sites west of Army Camp. No objection to continued use of Pokolbin State Forest. No objection to land south of Broke for non-firing exercises. Raised objections to other sites in N.S.W. under consideration.

F

6. Maitland City Council...

19.9.84

Value of Army Base at Singleton and offering full support to Singleton Shire Council for Camp retention.

F

7. Rylstone Shire...

14.9.84

Offering support for continued expansion of army and drawing attention to areas at Rylstone which could be used for Army exercises.

F

8. National Parks Association...

6.9.84

May be some agreement on the Army expansion between the Association &Singelton Shire Council.

F

9. State Emergency Services Upper Hunter Division

24.10.84

Stressing retention &expansion of Base important to whole Region.

F

Community Groups

1. Hunter Valley Vineyard Association...

2.10.84

No objection to extension of range...

F

2. Singleton &District Chamber of Commerce...

9.5.84

Strongly supports retention &expansion based on economic, social and sporting ties between army &community.

F

3. No Base Central Tablelands Committee...

Opposes location of army base being located in Central Tablelands and supports retention of Singleton.

F

4. Harvey Ranges No Base Committee...

23.8.84

Offers total support to keep army in Singleton

F

5. Mendooran Branch, No Base Committee...

6.9.84

Offering support for retention of Camp

F

6. No Base Committee, Central West...

10.10.84

Advising on telex to P.M. on opposition of base N.E. of Dubbo.

F

7. Congregation of Sisters of Mercy...

15.10.84

Supporting retention of army camp and lists of charities army has supported.

F

8. Singleton Neighbourhood &Community Information Centre...

8.10.84

List of many benefits and any transfer would create a drain on community resources.

F

9. Apex Club of Singleton...

8.10.84

Pointing out social, economic and charitable benefits of army.

F

10. Broke Public School...

4.10.84

General support of Army expansion, clarifying noise levels and divorcing himself from Wollemi V. Landholders Association.

F

11. Broke Parents &Citizens...

4.10.84

Fully supports retention and expansion to include school of artillery. Indicates how the army supports the community e.g. bush fires, emergencies. Noise created by Army is minimal.

F

12. Singleton Senior Citizen's Centre...

5.10.84

Supports continued presence of army in Singleton stating community and economic benefits.

F

13. Singleton Heights Parents &Citizens...

3.10.84

Supports retention and expansion for economic and social reasons. Army contributed greatly to economy region. Camp expansion would not destroy environment.

F

14. Singleton Rugby Club Ltd...

4.10.84

Supporting expansion of Army Camp. Loss of Army would affect sporting teams and club operations

F

15. Milbrodale Parents &Citizens...

2.10.84

Support for retention of Camp pointing out community benefits.

F

16. Singleton Child Care Centre...

2.10.84

Army provides support as users of Centre and volunteer support in fund raising activities and providing outdoor equipment.

F

17. Singleton Public School...

4.10.84

General support for expansion pointing out economic benefits, support for schools, tourist attraction of Army Museum, promotion of sport, manpower to support fetes.

F

18. Singleton District Vegetable Growers...

25.9.84

Supports retention and expansion of Camp. Primary producers rely on the army for business support.

F

19. Singleton High School...

20.9.84

Support for retention and expansion of Camp for education and economic reasons.

F

20. Singleton Youth Services Centre...

19.9.84

Support for expansion pointing out sporting and social benefits to community.

F

21. R.S.L....

14.9.84

States that Singleton Shire Council submission contains valuable reasons for the army retention, however could not adopt a policy to support a particular group.

F

22. Australian Democrats...

6.9.84

Supporting expansion of Army Camp with back-up area at Wagga Wagga.

F

23. National Party, Singleton Branch

5.9.84

Supporting retention of Camp &encourages location of artillery school at Singleton.

F

24. Quota Club of Singleton...

27.8.84

Support moves to retain Camp given economic and community benefits, e.g. fire control.

F

25. Lions Club of Singleton...

17.8.84

Support to Council's submission indicating Army's support to Singleton community.

F

26. Singleton Town Band...

15.8.84

Support for Army retention as Army benefits musical aspects of Singleton community.

F

27. Brokenback Motor Lodge...

24.10.84

As nearest commercial development to Army Base, fully supporting expansion-no problems with noise.

F

28. Singleton Pre-School Kinder- garten

Stressing involvement and impact of Army families on pre-school operation.

F

29. King Street Public School Parents &Citizens' Association

Offering full support for retention.

F

Note: No Community Groups opposed the retention and expansion of the Singleton Army Base.


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I thank the Senate. The table demonstrates the overwhelming support of community groups and semi-government bodies for the retention or expansion of the base. It notes that no government or semi-government bodies oppose the retention and expansion of the Singleton Army base. As Senator Sir John Carrick pointed out, that is in total conflict with the evidence presented by the Army. It also notes that no community groups oppose the retention and expansion of the Singleton Army base. Something like 29 submissions are listed in the table. Only four submissions from individuals-not groups-represented any level of opposition. As a result, I think that this table clearly demonstrates the inaccuracy of the claim made by Senator Gareth Evans that there was growing community concern in Singleton about the presence of the Army.

The second point I make relates to clause (c) of Senator Mason's motion, dealing with the adequacy and appropriateness of current procedures in protecting the rights of individual landholders and communities in areas where acquisition is contemplated by providing for fair compensation and appeal procedures. There is no doubt that recent events in various other areas have demonstrated the need for some inquiry into the adequacy and appropriateness of current procedures. I draw attention, for example, to the present disagreement going on in the Shoalhaven area about the manner in which the council was used as a front for acquiring land that may well be for the benefit of the Navy. I have no objection to the Navy moving to Jervis Bay. On the contrary, providing the road and rail infrastructure can be improved-it must be improved before the move takes place-I am in favour of the Navy moving there. It is curious that the Department of Defence and the local member of parliament for the area just to the north should have used the device of getting the council to buy the land, apparently on some verbal assurance from both the Labor member of parliament involved and/or the Department of Defence that the council would not run any risk-despite the fact that the cost was approximately $1.3m and the interest charges on that would be substantial-without anything in writing to guarantee the role of that council. So obviously the appropriateness of current procedures needs to be examined in respect of the Shoalhaven matter.

I also raise the question of the Woolwich housing proposal. The Army has said that it has a pressing need to build accommodation on multi-million dollar waterfront land at Woolwich, which until recently had been available for use by the residents there, but which the Army recently fenced off as if to establish some immediate right to develop it. Why on earth the Army would feel any great need to build housing on that waterfront land is beyond me, apart from the fact that it happens to be adjacent to their small boats operation.


Senator Mason —You would have a house there if you could, wouldn't you, Senator?


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I would love to be able to afford a house on such outstanding waterfront land. Why on earth the Army feels it should use some of the remaining vacant waterfront land in Sydney for such a purpose is beyond me. The word `arrogance', used earlier by Senator Peter Baume, also seems to encompass this activity. When this matter was raised by me in the Senate Estimates Committee, the Army responded that no money was allocated in the current Estimates for the building of such housing and it was still only a possible project. However, I notice that a large barbed wire topped fence has been erected around this land to prevent the local people from using it. That certainly seems to me to dramatise the need for improved procedures, particularly as I am concerned that from a compendium amount of $47m available to the Defence forces for capital expenditure during the coming year there seems to be no prohibition on the Army using some of that money for the purpose of housing. It seems to me that clause (c) is a vital element in this notice of motion as there is a clear need-quite apart from the need evident in the no base problem relating to Bathurst-Orange-for the adequacy and appropriateness of current procedures in protecting the rights of individual landholders to be inquired into by this Committee. I have great pleasure in supporting Senator Mason's motion.