Defence White Paper delivers for the North, says Senator


Northern-based LNP Senator Ian Macdonald has welcomed record investment in the country’s defence bases across the North, outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper released today. 

Senator Macdonald said the White Paper, which sets out the Government’s comprehensive and responsible long-term plan for national security, identifies a range of significant investments and strategies that will not only boost the north’s military capacity, but also highlight the critical importance of its proximity to regional neighbours. 
“History has shown the importance of the north to Australia’s defence capability and I am delighted that the White Paper places such high level importance on the north,” Senator Macdonald said.

“It dovetails well into our Northern Australia White Paper commitments and will be a significant boost to economies in the north, both in the short and long term.”

“The Defence White Paper outlines a number of significant new and upgraded facilities to bases across the North, from the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Central Queensland and along the Queensland coastline, including the major centres of Townsville and Cairns, and Weipa in the far north.

There are significant other investments in Northern Australia, in the Northern Territory and in the north of Western Australia, Senator Macdonald said.

“Not only are we seeing record spending and investment in our defence capabilities over the next decade, the strategic positioning of resources and infrastructure that has been outlined for the north will ensure the flow-on effects are felt throughout Northern Australia.”

Highlights for northern Queensland in the Defence White Paper include:

  • Upgrades at Shoalwater Bay Training Area to support the range of new land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities over the next decade, an investment of up to $150million
  • Upgrading accommodation and facilities at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville to support new and upgraded land and amphibious warfare capabilities, an investment of around $50million
  • Additional investment of $550million over the following decade (2025/6-2035/6) for Lavarack to enhance these capabilities
  • Upgrading facilities at the RAAF base Townsville with $100million investment to support introduction of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft
  • Redevelopment of the Townsville Field Training Area with an investment of around $20milllion in the first decade, and a further investment of $110million the following decade
  • New CH-47F Chinook helicopters and MRH-90 troop lift helicopters at the RAAF base Townsville
  • A riverine patrol capability to be re-established and based in Townsville
  • Investment of around $120million to improve and upgrade Cairns wharf space to support the new Offshore Patrol Vessels
  • Upgrading infrastructure at the Tully Training Area ($4million)
  • Replacement of two Leeuwin-class hydrographic vessels in Cairns with a specialist military survey vessel.
  • Upgrades to the Scherger RAAF base in Weipa to support the introduction of the Joint Strike Fighter.

In the decade to 2025/6, over $3.5billion will be spent upgrading Defence facilities in Queensland, and a further $4.5billion the following decade.

“With Defence already such a vital part of the North’s economy, this additional investment in infrastructure and resources further reinforces Northern Australia’s ongoing development as the powerhouse of our nation.” 

The 2016 Defence White Paper is available at www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper.

*A complete list of all the investment earmarked for Northern Australia follows:

QUEENSLAND

  • Shoalwater Bay Training Area will be upgraded to support the range of new land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities over the next decade to 2025-26, representing an investment of up to $150 million. An additional investment of around $40 million is planned for the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.
  • New facilities at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will support the introduction of new armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft in the early 2020s.
    • Upgrading accommodation and facilities at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville to support new and upgraded land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities, representing an investment over the next decade of around $50 million.  In the decade from 2025-26 out to 2035-36, additional investment of around $550 million is planned to be made to facilities at Lavarack Barracks, which will be needed to enhance these capabilities.
  • Updating facilities at RAAF Base Townsville over the next ten years with an additional $100 million investment to support the introduction of the F‑35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.  An additional investment of around $500 million is also planned to be made to RAAF Base Townsville over the decade from 2025-26 to 2035-36, to support our future force, particularly the introduction of new strike and air combat capabilities.
  • New facilities at RAAF Base Townsville will also support the introduction of an armed Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for our land forces in the early 2020s.
  • The new CH-47F Chinook helicopters, and MRH-90 troop lift helicopters, will be supported by facilities upgrades at RAAF Base Townsville.
  • A riverine patrol capability – a fleet of lightly armoured small water craft – will be re-established for our Army and based in Townsville from around 2022.
  • New and enhanced weapons and explosive ordnance facilities at Townsville will allow new high technology weapon systems to be stored and maintained safely and securely.
  • Redevelop the Townsville Field Training Area with an investment of around $20 million in the decade to 2025-26. Further investment of around $110 million between 2025-26 and 2035-36 is planned as training facilities are a key enabler of our current and future defence capability.
  • Upgrade infrastructure at the Tully Training Area with a planned expenditure of around $4 million by 2025-26.
  • Development of additional wharf space and other support facilities, including adequate maintenance and support infrastructure in Cairns to support those Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to be based in Cairns. The Government will acquire 12 OPVs to replace the current Armidale Class patrol boats from the early 2020s. These improvements represent an investment of around $120 million in the decade to 2025-26, and a further about $300 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.
  • Significant investment will be made in new infrastructure at several RAAF Bases in coming years, including RAAF Base Scherger (Weipa) to support the introduction of the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. This represents an investment of about $20 million in the decade to 2025-26, and approximately $110 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.
  • Australia’s military hydrography capability will be strengthened through the replacement of the two Leeuwin-class hydrographic vessels based at Cairns with a specialist military survey vessel from the early 2020s.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

  • Around $70 million in additional investment to update facilities at Robertson Barracks over the next 10 years to 2025-26. In the longer term, in the decade from 2025 to 2036, additional investment of up to $800 million will be made to facilities at Robertson Barracks.
  • Around $1.2 billion will be invested in infrastructure upgrades at HMAS Coonawarra and Larrakeyah Barracks in the decade to 2025-26, with an additional investment of around $2.1 billion towards future long‑term facilities requirements in the decade between 2025 and 2036.
  • 12 new Australian-built offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) will begin entering service from the early 2020s, replacing the 13 Armidale Class patrol boats. Darwin will be homeport to some of the OPVs, and HMAS Coonawarra will be upgraded to support the existing maritime force.
  • Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin will play a vital role in the introduction of the F‑35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the new P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and response aircraft. Investment of around $200 million will be made towards its airfields and facilities at RAAF Base Darwin over the decade to 2025-26.
  • Around $5.6 billion in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36 is planned to enhance airbase capacity in the Northern Territory, with capacity and facilities to support the ADF’s future requirements, in addition to supporting visiting aircraft of allies and partners.
  • Significant investments in new infrastructure and facilities will be made over the next decade to 2025-26 to support the ADF’s strike and air combat capabilities. This includes upgrades to RAAF Base Tindal to support the introduction into service of the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
  • Upgrading the runway at RAAF Base Tindal to ensure that the KC-30A air-to-air refuelling aircraft, and the E-7A Wedgetail early warning and control aircraft can operate to their full potential.
  • A Northern Explosive Ordnance storage facility will be established at or near RAAF Base Tindal for the bulk storage of explosive ordnance. Purpose-built facilities will also be established at the Delamere Air Weapons Range to support personnel training on the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.
  • Weapons and explosive ordnance facilities will be enhanced at RAAF Base Tindal to allow the new high technology weapon systems to be stored and maintained safely and securely.
  • These improvements represent an investment of around $1 billion in the decade to 2025-25, and a further about $50 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36. 
  • Bradshaw Field Training Area will be upgraded this decade to support our land force capabilities, representing an investment of about $20 million in the decade to 2025-26, and a further about $350 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.
  • Defence information networks will be upgraded to provide the capability to store, manage, and process large amounts of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Intelligence capability enhancements will support existing intelligence capabilities based in the Northern Territory. The Government will also upgrade and enhance the Jindalee Operational Radar Network over the next two decades, including facilities near Alice Springs.
  • Enhancing the ADF’s integrated air and missile defence system, including upgrades to the Regional Operations Centre at RAAF Base Tindal, to assist with the monitoring of our air and space environments.
  • Facilities, infrastructure and airfield works at RAAF Base Tindal will also support the surveillance capabilities of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.
  • Facilities at Cocos Island Airfield will also be upgraded to support the P-8A Poseidon long range maritime patrol aircraft in the decade to 2025-26, an investment of around $190 million. A further approximately $30 million will be spent on Cocos Island facilities during the decade from 2025-26 to 2035-36.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Bases Curtin (Derby) and Learmonth (Exmouth) will be upgraded to support the RAAF’s new strike and air combat capabilities, including the new F‑35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and the KC-30A air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
  • These upgrades will include planned investment of around $190 million for RAAF Curtin by 2025-26, with an additional approximately $30 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36. Around $190 million will be invested in improving RAAF Learmonth by 2025-26, and an additional approximately $200 million in the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.
  • The Harold E. Holt Communications Facility in Exmouth will also be upgraded to support enhanced space situational awareness and communications capabilities, involving around $200 million in planned investment out to 2025-26, and a further around $30 million by 2035-36.
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