Cairns has everything the Navy needs


North-Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald has challenged statements made by the Acting Chief of the Defence Force Air Marshall Mark Binskin AO that naval ships on operation in the north must return to southern ports for re-provisioning.

Senator Macdonald was responding to statements made under questioning at yesterdays Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Estimates hearings.

I wanted it on the record that Defence can find everything they need in Cairns there is no need for them to go back to Sydney said the Senator.

During questioning about the use of HMAS Choules as a floating hospital at the asylum-seeker facility on Manus Island, Senator Macdonald asked about the time it takes for the Choules to travel from Sydney to Manus island, and the time it takes to travel from Cairns to Manus Island.

Departmental officials advised Senator Macdonald that the travel time from Cairns would be five days, at which point the acting chief remarked that it would in fact be much longer because the vessel would have to go south to pick up everything it needed.

Macdonald assured the Acting Chief that Cairns is more than able to provide the Defence Force with everything it might need.

And even if there were some military hardware that was desperately needed, the largest army base in the country is only 300 clicks down the coast at Townsville he said.

The idea that naval ships operating in northern waters need to go to Sydney or Perth for reprovisioning doesnt pass the common sense test, and is simply not the case.

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