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Tuesday, 14 December 1993
Page: 4535

Senator CALVERT —On behalf of the Joint Committee on Public Works, I present the ninth report of the committee, on the RAAF Williams rationalisation project, Laverton, Victoria, and seek leave to move a motion in relation to the report.

  Leave granted.

Senator CALVERT —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the report.

I seek leave to have my tabling speech incorporated in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The speech read as follows

The report which I have tabled deals with the RAAF Williams rationalisation project, Laverton, Victoria.

RAAF Williams, which comprises Point Cook and Laverton bases is located 20 kilometres west of the Melbourne Central Business District and 5 kilometres from the township of Werribee.

The Defence Force Structure Review rationalised the disposition and functions of all Defence units and subsequently, in May 1991 the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Robert Ray announced that the airfields at Laverton and Point Cook were to be closed or sold.

Following the Minister's announcement a Consultative Committee under the chairmanship of the Hon Barry Jones, MP, examined the implications of the possible base closures and the impact this would have on local communities.

This proposal consists of three major items, minor adjusting works and engineering services. The major items are:

refurbishment of the School of Radio Building at Laverton to accommodate RAAF Headquarters Logistics Command, which will vacate rented premises in the Melbourne CBD

refurbishment of existing facilities at Laverton to house all elements of the RAAF Publications Unit

construction of purpose-built facilities for the RAAF Institute of Aviation Medicine which will be relocated from Point Cook Base to RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia

At the public hearing the Committee was advised of the savings in rental which will result by relocating Headquarters Logistics Command from premises presently occupied in the Melbourne Central Business District to RAAF Base Laverton.

The Institute of Aviation Medicine will be collocated with the Aircraft Research and Development Unit which is currently located at Edinburgh. One of the functions of the Institute of Aviation Medicine is refresher training for current aircrew and service transport will make Edinburgh easily accessible.

While recognising the historical significance of Point Cook and supporting the proposal, the Committee does not see the logic of maintaining the two operational bases at Laverton and Point Cook. Apart from the RAAF Museum, the Committee does not see the necessity for maintaining other units, such as Headquarters Training Command and the RAAF College at Point Cook. Should the National Air and Space Museum be established at Point Cook, then the Committee believes the RAAF Museum should be incorporated into it.

The Committee recommends that no further capital works be commenced at RAAF Base Point Cook and that units located at Point Cook, with the exception of the RAAF Museum be located elsewhere.

The Committee also recommends that the Department of Defence keep it advised of the results of the ground decontamination surveys of RAAF Williams and of possible costs of decontaminating both RAAF Base Laverton and RAAF Base Point Cook.

The estimated cost of the RAAF Williams rationalisation project is $19.8m at August 1993 prices.

The Committee commends the report to the Senate.

Senator CALVERT —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

  Leave granted; debate adjourned.