Time for the Navy to move North

The spectacular celebration of 100 years of the Australian Navy which is being held in Sydney this weekend should be used as an opportunity to look forward to the next 100 years.

North Queensland government Senator Ian Macdonald said this was the perfect time to consider the advantages of moving the Australian fleet North.

Sydney Harbour is very appropriate for this centenary celebration, but I would hope than in 100 years time the bicentennial Fleet Review would be at a major naval base somewhere in Northern Australia, Senator Macdonald said.

As I have often said, unless we are expecting an attack by the penguins from Antarctica or the New Zealanders, there seems to be little practical use in maintaining a major fleet in Sydney Harbour.

Senator Macdonald said that there were two main purposes for the existence of the Australian Navy.

Firstly the Navy is there for the defence of our country and to protect our borders.

Secondly it is there to assist in major natural calamities both within Australia and in neighbouring countries where we have a special responsibility.

While strategic consideration should always guide our location of defence assets, it is a no-brainer that if the fleet were based in the north they would be much closer to where they might be needed which would make them faster to respond.

He said that there was already a major Naval facility at Cairns which could easily be expanded to accommodate more of Australias fleet.

There is land available in Cairns and a very supportive city council which would facilitate the expansion of the current Naval base.

In Darwin there is already a major facility which could be upgraded and Townsville, which is the home of Australian's largest army base and the major client for Australia's new Landing Helicopter Dock ships, already has facilities for major ships and could be further expanded to accommodate more of the fleet.

Senator Macdonald said that another advantage of moving the fleet was that the Navy facilities in Sydney Harbour could be put to a better and more productive economic use.

It would be good for Northern Australia and excellent for Naval personnel who would be able to take advantage of the wonderful lifestyle, climate and facilities of Northern Australia, he said.

The new government must make an immediate start on plans to locate more of Australia's Naval assets in the North.

"I call on the Prime Minister to use the Fleet Review this weekend in Sydney to make a major announcement on the relocation of Naval assets to the North.

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