Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works
HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project

GALTON, Brigadier Matt, Director-General, Capital Facilities and Infrastructure, Department of Defence

NEUMANN, Mr David, Director, Navy Infrastructure Plans, Department of Defence

STAVRIDIS, Captain John, Commanding Officer of Defence Base HMAS Watson, Department of Defence

FOX, Lieutenant Colonel Doug, Project Director for the HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project, Department of Defence

WINDER, Mr Mark, Project Manager and Contract Administrator for the HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project, RPS Group

TERRY, Mr James, Managing Contractor Representative for the HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project, Lendlease

Committee met at 12:45

CHAIR ( Dr McVeigh ): Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I declare open this public hearing of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works into the HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project. Our first witness will be the Department of Defence. I thank the Department of Defence for the familiarisation tour for the committee this morning.

I welcome representatives of the Department of Defence. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should advise that these hearings are formal proceedings of the parliament. Consequently, they warrant the same respect as proceedings of the parliament itself. Giving false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. Do you have any additional information about the capacity in which you appear?

Capt. Stavridis : I am also the Director, Training Authority Maritime Warfare.

CHAIR: Brigadier Galton, would you care to make some brief introductory remarks before we proceed?

Brig. Galton : This proposal seeks approval of the HMAS Watson Redevelopment Project for the Department of Defence. By way of a brief summary of the key time line: the project achieved government approval in August 2019. The project was then referred to this committee in September, at which point we were able to then, as far as the process runs, to commence our community consultations, which are ongoing.

Navy operations at HMAS Watson date back to the defence of Sydney during World War I. Since this time the base has grown and continues to grow with the evolution of Navy's capability. HMAS Watson is the Royal Australian Navy's principal warfare and navigation training establishment and is primarily occupied and operated by Navy's Training Authority Maritime Warfare.

Training Authority Maritime Warfare conducts a wide range of specialist warfare courses and tactical training for individuals, ship weapons command teams and navigation staff in a suite of sophisticated training simulators. The base facilitates training for approximately 1,300 personnel each year. The base also provides the living-in requirements for all staff and trainees.

HMAS Watson was established in 1945 before current technology was extensively used in training. Training methods have since evolved to meet the needs of a contemporary Navy. Flexible modern learning centres are required to achieve the desired training and capability outcomes of a modern Navy. Whilst facilities at HMAS Watson have been maintained and adaptively re-used, many of them have reached the end of their design life and do not meet contemporary working, training or livings standards or are not fit for their current purpose. The supporting base engineering services and security, as well as facilities for accommodation, catering and health support, are also below the required standard to support the throughput of the base. Defence proposals to upgrade key training and support facilities and base infrastructure are part of this redevelopment project, including the construction of a new 24,500 square metre training facility; consolidating training staff and staff support functions into a modern flexible fit-for-purpose facility; upgrading base engineering services, including electrical, hydraulics, civil and communications; upgrading base security, including perimeter upgrades and a new base entry; upgrading the base galleys; constructing a minimum of 236 single occupancy units of living-in accommodation; a new medical and support services facility; and finally constructing some replacement car parking. The training provided at HMAS Watson is vital to maintaining Navy's capability. To ensure the base continues to support high-end warfare and navigation training outcomes facility solutions that appropriately support current and future training imperatives are necessary.

The total cost of the proposed works is around $430 million, excluding goods and services tax. The cost estimate includes construction costs, professional management and design fees and appropriate allowances for contingencies and escalation. Subject to parliamentary approval, design finalisation will commence in December 2019, with construction expected to commence in February of 2020. The works are expected to be complete by the end of 2026. That concludes the Defence opening statement. The witnesses are ready for questions from the committee. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you, Brigadier Galton. I might ask a quick question by way of clarification before passing on to colleagues. You mentioned government approval was received in August this year. What format does that government approval take?

Brig. Galton : That's a two minister approval. That's a dual minister signing. So initially the Minister for Defence and then that goes to the Minister for Finance for signature.

CHAIR: And following that, referred to this committee for—

Brig. Galton : Yes. Once we have that government approval we then refer through to the committee.

CHAIR: Thank you. Deputy Chair?

Mr ZAPPIA: Thank you, Chair. Brigadier, thank you to yourself and your team for the briefing earlier on this morning and the tour of the facility. I have several questions but I'll start with this one: several submissions have questioned the logic of redeveloping HMAS Watson as opposed to gradually relocating training facilities to other naval bases. What is your response to those submissions? Are there any strategic reasons as to why HMAS Watson should continue into the future?

Brig. Galton : Two-ocean basing is a central tenet for Navy basing for the nation. The two-ocean basing sees a major fleet base in the east and the west. The major Fleet Base East being Garden Island and the major Fleet Base West being HMAS Stirling. At Garden Island, as the name suggests, is the major Fleet Base East and the home port for a large proportion of Navy ships. There are then the smaller bases where training is conducted that are deliberately surrounding Garden Island, so there's close proximity for the sailors that operate on the ships and then do their training. HMAS Kuttabul, HMAS Waterhen, HMAS Penguin and HMAS Watson, being those bases where there is a direct link between the functions that are performed—not an overlapping link but there is an interdependency between what happens there.

By having that nexus of bases surrounding Garden Island it allows the Navy to do a number of things. They can have their personnel and families based in one location for a reasonable amount of time without the need to be posting them throughout the countryside in regular postings that would move them around and potentially cause problems for retention for them. That's the secondary function. The primary one though, the primary reason for that centrality around Garden Island, is the training benefits and the training efficiencies that are realised from that.

I might pass to my Navy colleagues who can get to another level of detail as to the importance of that. Before I do, the final thing I'd say is Defence did look quite closely 10 years ago, at the direction of government, at the basing of Navy. When it was looked to see what the feasibility was to be able to replicate the functions of HMAS Watson, the other bases I mentioned and Garden Island somewhere else in the country it was seen then, and remains now, as being incredibly cost prohibitive to do. To uproot Garden Island in particular with Captain Cook Graving Dock, which is a unique facility in the nation—it's the only facility whereby Navy can do their deep maintenance on their ships. To replicate that elsewhere would literally be in the tens of billions of dollars to be able to move all those bases, including Garden Island. So it was seen as cost prohibitive then as one major factor and it's still cost prohibitive now to do. I recognise that it's not an insignificant investment being made at HMAS Watson at all for $430 million. But to be able to replicate the entire base in another part of the country, to purchase land and to start afresh, and start from scratch, would be very cost prohibitive. I'll run it past Navy for a few more details on the efficiencies they realise through having the training proximate to Garden Island.

Capt. Stavridis : As the brigadier mentioned, our primary reason that HMAS Watson and director training authority in maritime warfare exists is to prepare individuals and command teams for service in operations as sea. So we train the individuals and the command teams. Those are the people that will operate our ships. There are certain efficiencies and effectiveness of being co-located with the units that we're training people to operate. In addition, the command teams on board ships regularly come and use our facilities to conduct their own individual and command team training prior to going on operations. That's the first reason. Those training events occur at all the Sydney bases.

The second reason is for the retention and recruitment of our personnel. Clearly we need the best and brightest to come and operate what is technically challenging equipment in a difficult and challenging role. Being able to recruit and retain by being in an area such as Sydney certainly assists in that.

The final thing, when we do conduct our training, is having training facilities co-located with the ships that are operating those training facilities, so our personnel don't need to post for longer periods away from home when they subsequently deploy for months on end conducting the training they've completed on our bases.

Brig. Galton : Just one other thing. I recognise that a number of submissions did reference the importance of basing in the north. Just to respond to that, it's really not an either-or prospect. It's a matter of balance and being able to do both. As the committee would be aware, we are currently doing the redevelopment of HMAS Coonawarra in the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct up in Darwin. Combined with that program is work is also a project called Facilities to Support Naval Operations in the North. It's a significant upgrade of the wharf and land-side infrastructure at HMAS Coonawarra that gives Navy, and indeed Defence, the ability to forward base and to base operations from Darwin and then up into the north. So having that capability there, as well as the home port capability that Garden Island and HMAS Stirling represent, gives us a complete picture that enables the disposition of Defence to meet the commitments that we have.

Mr ZAPPIA: I'm going to go to the very specific submissions made by John Faulkner. John requests that the perimeter fence should be set back sufficiently to enable the walking track to go right around the base. Can that request be accommodated on behalf of the broader community? I understand that this is a request that others in the community would also support. If it can be, will it be?

Brig. Galton : The deputy secretary of my group and Mr Faulkner have had an initial discussion on this. The short answer is that we will look very closely at what we can do to accommodate that. I understand that the request is there is to inset the fence to allow there to be the physical room to make it feasible to do a walking track on the eastern side of the base. We will certainly be working with Mr Faulkner and looking very closely at what we can physically do on the ground to be able to achieve that intent.

Mr ZAPPIA: Can I clarify this point: is there any defence or military reason why that can't be accommodated?

Brig. Galton : We'll need to look closely at security implications and public safety. We'll need to look into that to see what the art of the possible is. At this stage it is too early to give a black and white yes or no, but we will certainly work with Mr Faulkner to see what the art of the possible is on that eastern side.

Mr ZAPPIA: Lastly, this is about a five-year construction program, from reading the material that you've provided to us. There have been concerns expressed by locals that there will be considerable disruption to their living during that five-year period. What disruption do you envisage that local residents might have to put up with, and how will that be managed? What will be done to minimise any disruption?

Brig. Galton : Firstly I would make the observation that those of us in Defence, and particularly the people on the base, are also members of the local community, so we're certainly not having our ears closed to those concerns. We acknowledge the concerns that have been raised. I appreciate that they have been raised in a very constructive fashion. During the community consultation we found that those discussions have been very positive, as in positive engagement on how we can answer those concerns. Obviously with $430 million of construction work there's no getting around the fact that there are impacts. We recognise that. The primary ones will be noise, traffic, dust, vibration, the change to the visual aspects of the base. They're the main ones that have been raised with us. I'll go across to my building colleagues here to talk about the details of some of the measures that they'll take, but just to mention on. On traffic, there have been detailed traffic studies done by my building industry colleagues. We've looked very carefully at where the height of construction would be, and that's around the third quarter of 2023. We've done some assessment of what that will physically mean. The assessment thus far has estimated that over that three-month period or so where construction will be at its height, there will be an increase in traffic by way of trucks in and out of the base to the tune of up to 70 or more truck movements per day. However, that would be spread out throughout a 10-hour work period, and our contractors will look very carefully at ensuring that we can deconflict those truck movements with the peak traffic times so that we're not causing any more disruption than we need to. There will also be a number of measures taken for noise and vibration. I might ask my colleagues to give you some details of what we're looking at doing there.

Mr Winder : The first part of the project's approach to environmental review is that the PMCA on behalf of the Commonwealth engages and environmental consultant to do what Defence refers to as an environmental report. You may be aware that that is similar to a review of environmental factors. In this case, we identified some secondary reports which supported that primary. Each of those items that have been listed by Brigadier Galton have their own separate assessment. That's heritage, visual, traffic, construction noise and ecology. Each of those key aspects has been reviewed from an assessment perspective. The outcomes and conclusions of those reports are then mandated to the contractor. The contractor is obligated to Defence to provide a full suite of project plans which ensure that those mitigations and conclusions are adopted in the delivery.

Brig. Galton : That's the process that Mr Winder has just described. I'll ask Mr Terry to get into the practicalities of what Lendlease, as our managing contractor, can do to address these very legitimate concerns that have been raised.

Mr Terry : In terms of disruption, primarily we're talking about truck movements in this instance. If we talk about the truck movements, we're stating the works in a way that the works are carried out as they need to be. So in terms of a delivery arriving at the base, we're not looking to have a whole line of trucks sitting waiting outside the base. We try to adopt a just-in-time approach for deliveries, so that we don't have trucks banking up idling outside the base. Combined with that, where possible we'll have holding areas adjacent to the worksite within the base. So the ability for trucks to disrupt the surrounding residential areas will be significantly reduced by that approach.

We've also got, as we mentioned, a levelling of trucks, in terms of the delivery strategy and the work that needs to be carried out. Given that it is a Defence base, we need to be ordinarily more organised about the deliveries. That's part of the structure of what we need to do. That will drive a level of preplanning ahead of works happening. Coupled with those measures we also envisage an ongoing role for community consultations so that they're aware of the works progressively during the works occurring.

Mr ZAPPIA: Thank you. If time permits, I'll come back with other questions.

Senator GALLACHER: Thanks, Brigadier Galton and your colleagues, for the briefing this morning and showing us the facilities. One thing that has stuck in my mind since that briefing concluded is that essentially this is a training function that you operate here. You showed us facilities which need redundancy in respect of air conditioning and servers and all of those things—simulators, air warfare game rooms and the like. What has been running around in my brain ever since that is, why can't you just package that up somewhere else? Why does it actually have to be at Watson? I'm not clear on that yet.

Brig. Galton : The facility itself and the building and the equipment within it could quite literally be plonked in the middle of the desert, and it would be functional and it would work. The consideration, however, is that whilst simulation is something that not just Navy but Defence overall uses quite extensively—Air Force use pilot simulators; Army use firing range simulators and vehicle simulators as well—that is very good for training junior soldiers and junior officers in the processes and getting them familiar with operating the particular piece of equipment, but it doesn't completely replace the need to also do it for real. Therefore at HMAS Watson they will coordinate between doing simulated work and then having the young men and women on the courses then going across to Garden Island and actually going on a ship and doing live what they've just trained in. I'll throw it across to John in a minute to give a bit more on that.

Another consideration that I alluded to a bit earlier is that the location is a factor that does play into retention of service personnel. Navy has seen retention benefit from positive impacts from their current basing strategy whereby you have Fleet Base East and West. It does mean that a junior sailor or officer can see quite a bit of their career in one location, without the need to be uprooting and moving across the countryside. Not only is there the disruption from a family point of view, but there is actually a cost in moving Defence personnel between postings, so all three services have tried their level best to have training and the operational units being proximate to each other. Navy has achieved that with Garden Island and those four bases.

Capt. Stavridis : Just to expand on that point, the efficiency of being co-located with our fleet assets, yes we do conduct the simulation but, as the Brigadier has alluded to, we go off to the major fleet units to conduct that training. Indeed, before we join the major fleet units, we have smaller vessels on Sydney Harbour and out west where junior officers and junior sailors can conduct that training at sea before progressing to the next stage of training. Indeed, we have ships at Fleet Base West and we also have simulators, both command team trainers and bridge simulators, out west to service those ships and personnel training out in that area.

Senator GALLACHER: So it's not unusual for Defence estate to make a decision—Point Cook and Maribyrnong are two sites that you've disposed of, basically. You alluded to a 2006 review which concluded that Watson was a required base. Do you want to put something on the public record about that?

Brig. Galton : Certainly. Government agreed to that in 2006. That was that HMAS Cerberus would be an enduring base where it is, down in the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, and as part of that same approval that was surrounding the future Navy training infrastructure requirements it also had that Garden Island and those four bases that surround it—HMAS, Waterhen, Penguin, Watson and Kuttabul would also be enduring bases. That provided us the basis to then base our future investment on the Defence estate with the knowledge that there was government approval that those locations would be enduring. We've invested as such.

Senator GALLACHER: How do you say that this is the most cost-effective use of taxpayers' money, to be 500 metres from some of the most prime real estate in New South Wales?

Brig. Galton : We certainly recognise that it is a fairly unique location. It's a very attractive location for a whole number of reasons. To be able to replicate this function elsewhere—it was certainly looked at whether there was capacity and functionality on bases nearby to be able to do any of these functions that are performed at Watson. Randwick Barracks was carefully looked at. Randwick Barracks already has Navy simulation systems there and will have another one added shortly. That base is at capacity, though. Defence over the years has sold off portions of that base, to the point now where the physical room on that base is at capacity. There is not the room there to replicate what HMAS Watson does. Likewise with HMAS Waterhen, Penguin and Kuttabul. They are very small, congested sites, much like HMAS Watson is as well. So there wasn't the ability to move them there, either. To start afresh and find a greenfields site for another Garden Island and another series of linked training bases, as I think I mentioned earlier, would be incredibly cost prohibitive. It wouldn't be affordable in the short, medium or even long term from what we can see, and to do it would be in the tens of billions. I know we looked very carefully at what it might cost to move a brigade from maybe South-East Queensland to somewhere else—because we're always looking at options—and that was several billion. In terms relative to a naval base such as Garden Island, a brigade is a relatively straightforward facility from a construction point of view, compared to what it is for maritime facilities. Even that brigade would have been several billion to move to a brownfield or greenfield site. So I think it would have to be of even greater magnitude to move a series of Navy capabilities out from Sydney Harbour.

Senator GALLACHER: If this project gets parliamentary approval and goes ahead, residents around here could look to another 30-year future of a Defence base on this site, with community cooperation and consultation. Do you have a history of discourse at the moment?

Brig. Galton : When we do this level of investment we certainly don't intend on divesting the base shortly after that, so Defence does see a long-term future for HMAS Watson. That government approval back in 2006 endorsed that, and that remains. When I said words around developing and continuing to evolve, there's no notion to expand the base at all—not that there's room anyway. It's the redevelopment internal to the current boundary that we're talking about. There's no notion of there being any ability to get bigger by way of footprint than what it is. We'd be looking at just developing within the current confines of the base. Given the level of this investment, there's certainly no notion that we'd be coming back to this committee in the near or medium term, because this investment we're doing now will really see us through the next few decades. It's hard to predict what technology will be out there by way of capability and training in 30 to 40 years time which might need another evolution of what the base looks like. For now, the designs we're doing here are flexible enough to accommodate what we know now and what we foresee might be future training requirements.

CHAIR: Brigadier Galton, I'm interested in following up on consultation that has happened and is planned, given this was referred to our committee not so long ago—in September. I invite you to comment on that. In particular I'm interested in the most recent correspondence from the Mayor of Woollahra Municipal Council—and I acknowledge that that correspondence was, I think, only received in the last couple of days—

Brig. Galton : Yes.

CHAIR: They talk about, for example, a traffic management plan. Obviously, as a local authority, they're very interested in that. They ask in their letter for those details to be—to use their words; I think I'm quoting them correctly—'submitted to council for approval'. They've requested—I assume when available—other planning documentation, presumably for council consideration and/or formal approval. So first of all I just want to understand that consultation with council and your understanding as to what formal approvals council may or may not have to provide.

Brig. Galton : The consultation formally kicks off after we refer the project. That's the formal part of it, but we certainly have every intention, as we do on all major projects, to continue that process along. I understand that there have already been meetings with the local council. It's to our great benefit to make sure we share those plans with council and make sure they're something that council is satisfied and happy with, particularly traffic management. There are only so many routes in and out of the base, obviously, but we still fully intend to work with council to have the most sensible traffic management plan that we can, plus those other environmental plans as well. Mark might have something to add to that.

Mr Winder : We met with Woollahra council last Monday and made a commitment, exactly as the brigadier just mentioned, that we would work very closely with them on all of those measures.

CHAIR: Do you require council approval?

Brig. Galton : Within the base, that's federal, but we're very conscious that we're not operating on our land as soon we step out of the gate. So we will treat it as if we do, because I think it's in our interests to work with them, but I'm not sure whether technically that approval is required or not. I'd probably say it would be, because we're conscious we're on council land when we're moving trucks in and out of the base. We certainly wouldn't want to move forward with a traffic management plan that the council was not satisfied with, because it wouldn't be in anyone's interest for us to be doing that.

CHAIR: Okay. From their correspondence, the mayor, on behalf of council, is quite obviously asking for information, and you're advising that that interaction is underway.

Lt Col. Fox : We've also been very mindful of the environmental concerns of council. You'll notice that the first or second page of their letter looks at some environmental documents. We've already forwarded those to them, basically being responsible to council's request.

CHAIR: Another point I noticed in that correspondence from council was the mayor's comments around potential public access to the national park. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that consideration may or may not interact with the submission from Mr Faulkner in relation to the walk. Pardon me if it's yet early days in consideration of that, but can you offer any commentary about the possibilities there?

Brig. Galton : It is definitely early days on that. I think that, from a security and safety point of view, the practicalities of having access that goes through the base would be very difficult to agree to. But, as I mentioned earlier, where we can, the in-setting of the boundary where possible is certainly something we're open to. I don't know if that can satisfy some of those requests about access.

In short, yes, it is early days, but, internal to the current boundary and having public access there is very difficult to manage and not something routinely done at all on Defence bases. We do have sort of one-off controlled events on some bases where people will come on and off maybe to use some amenities on a base, but to have a walk that is open all the time through the base is probably not feasible. But certainly the walk that Mr Faulkner had written about, which would be outside the base boundary by us being able to in-set that fence where we can is something we're able to do.

Mr ZAPPIA: On that same subject: during the construction period, will the western track that currently exists still be accessible to the public?

Mr Winder : Absolutely. There are no changes to the access along that public access route or, in the sustainment phase, the alignment of the perimeter. The perimeter remains exactly as per the existing alignment.

Brig. Galton : Yes, there's certainly no expansion of the perimeter fence at all. It's replacing what's there with something that's more functional and then with the consideration—

Mr ZAPPIA: I was more concerned about the construction phase, because it could be five years.

Brig. Galton : It will still remain open throughout the construction.

Lt Col. Fox : On top of that pedestrian access, which will remain open, we also work closely with National Parks and Wildlife. For vehicle access we've got two gates that go through the security perimeter, and we work with National Parks and Wildlife to make sure they can continue their functions by accessing with vehicles for the equipment they need to get across the base.

CHAIR: Still on the theme of consultation, I note that in Defence's submission you've explained that further consultation will be conducted with a range of stakeholders, including federal and state members, council, National Parks and Wildlife et cetera. Our committee obviously will go into its own considerations after these public hearings, but very often—regularly—we're very keen to get the feedback from stakeholders such as local representatives. Can you make any comments on how that ongoing consultation may inform our committee given the time pressures that we all operate under?

Brig. Galton : Certainly. As routine business for all the major projects, we'll write to federal, local and state members and also to the key stakeholder bodies, community groups and whatnot, offer personal briefings and then take on board what comes back from those. Sometimes they're taken up; sometimes they're not. But, just because it wasn't taken up when we first offered, if there's another request subsequently to come and talk to us, we're very open to that and will do that. Any concerns that are raised that are new, different or more pronounced than the ones we've already had that we've reported through to you thus far in our community consultation report or have included in the submissions we'll certainly ensure, if we do get that coming in in the next days or weeks, we can forward that through to the secretariat very quickly and let you know what we're doing to endeavour to address those concerns.

Lt Col. Fox : Following the report that was submitted to the committee, in which we outline some that we're going to, the only one we haven't had a response back from was Property NSW, and they really can't find the right person that might want a briefing. They haven't really gone much past that. The other two we particularly looked at include Woollahra Municipal Council. On the Monday night soon after we submitted the report we engaged them, and the result basically is their submission.

CHAIR: We've received that.

Lt Col. Fox : We had a good, active session with the council, and it was very well attended by council. We've since then had a follow-up meeting—

CHAIR: Was that a public meeting?

Lt Col. Fox : That was at the council chambers at six o'clock that night in one of their routine meetings, so there were a lot of people in the background as well as the councillors. We then had a follow-on meeting with our team based on that meeting—actually it was with our design team, particularly on stormwater drainage, so our engineering principals got onto it. That will be ongoing to make sure we allay any concerns. It was a positive understanding of the hydraulics and the stormwater solution and it will continue with our team.

We then met and briefed Ms Gabrielle Upton, the local New South Wales member, on the Friday of that week. She was very informed. She understood. She knew the project was coming and appreciated the briefing. She didn't actually raise any issues herself; it was more what the community had raised with her as their local member. She asked us to continue to keep her informed, but she was pretty well appraised of the project and appreciated the briefing. She didn't really have any issues other than what the community had already raised.

CHAIR: And no written response?

Lt Col. Fox : There was no written response from Ms Upton.

Brig. Galton : What we're talking about there, quite naturally, is focused on the project and what we're doing by way of community consultation through the project. Ongoing and routine business for gentlemen like Captain Stavridis has a lot of connection between base hierarchy and community as well, and I might ask him to talk to a bit of that to round out the contact with the community that not just the project but the base overall has as well.

Capt. Stavridis : We have a very long tradition of engaging with the community. We are indeed proud to be part of what is a wonderful community. Shortly we'll be reconducting our annual Carols by the Bay, on 7 December, where we open the base, as the brigadier earlier mentioned, to the community to show them what we do and share our facilities. Also, on the individual level, we engage with the Watsons Bay residents association and also local services and businesses like the Watsons Bay hotel, the police and New South Wales wildlife and parks. We do that on a regular basis not because we're directed to but because we want to and we're quite proud to be part of that wonderful community.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator GALLACHER: This project is spaced over how many years?

Brig. Galton : It's over six. It is starting early next year and is looking to be completed by the end of 2026.

Senator GALLACHER: So the community consultation about access trucks and workers coming and going should be really well developed in the first year and seamless thereafter?

Brig. Galton : That would be the aim, yes. I'm sure there will be bumps along the way, but that's the intention. If we find that one of these management plans is not meeting the intent and not working, we'll certainly be flexible to adapt where we need to.

CHAIR: Thank you. If there are no further questions in this part of the hearing, I therefore thank our witnesses from Defence for their attendance here today. You will be sent a copy of the transcript and may make corrections to any potential errors in the transcription. Before I move to close this Defence component of the hearing, are there any other points of interest that any of the witnesses want to add?

Brig. Galton : No thanks.

CHAIR: Thank you, Brigadier. Thank you, everyone. I close this Defence component of the hearing.