Call for new military bases in the region

Talisman Sabre exercise 2021 taken by Australian Department of Defence

By Trish Bowman

Following on from talks with the Department of Defence in 2021, Rockhampton Regional and Livingstone Shire Councils are pushing to have more military bases located in the Central Queensland region.

Central Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils’ (CQROC) Deputy Chair and Livingstone Mayor Andy Ireland said he and Rockhampton Mayor Tony Williams went to Brisbane and had discussions with a Department of Defence Brigadier General last year that were very positive.

“We asked what we could do to support building new military bases in the region, it just makes sense, we have plenty of land available and it would save taxpayers millions of dollars,” Cr Ireland said.

“From the discussions, CQROC released its Defence Strategy advocating for the move.

“The Shoalwater Bay Training Area is a logical future site for a new School of Armour and centralised armour vehicle depot.

“The CQROC Defence Strategy includes establishing a new Army Barracks in Rockhampton, a RAAF base at Rockhampton Airport, a Fleet Base North at Gladstone Port and a School of Armour at Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

In 2016, a Defence White Paper outlined the need to increase investment in military bases, ports and airfields in Northern Australia.

Mayor Ireland said Central Queensland was an ideal location because it is already home to Australia’s most advanced military training area at Shoalwater Bay.

“Building new bases in the region will enable quicker response times to strategic threats in the region, more training more often, better security for our northern approaches and the South Pacific and more secure and self-reliant supply chains,” Cr Ireland said.

“A centralised armoured vehicle storage and maintenance depot could be built at Shoalwater Bay Training Area to overcome the challenge of moving the ADF’s new over-size and over-mass combat vehicles between bases and training areas.

“Currently it costs ADF over $5.9 million each year on average to transport 50 to 60 armoured vehicles from Enoggera in Brisbane to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

“Central Queensland also has specialisation in vehicle repair and maintenance to support the coal industry vehicle fleet, which can be leveraged to support the ADF in the vicinity of the proposed vehicle depot.

“It is also logical to then relocate the School of Armour from Victoria to Shoalwater Bay Training Area, co-located with the vehicle depot.

“This would add $423 million in Gross Regional Product (GRP) to the local economy and more than 2000 jobs.

“Central Queensland also boasts a sought-after lifestyle for serving ADF members and their families with cheaper house prices than current base locations and lower cost of living.

“Developing military bases in Central Queensland would bring huge economic benefits to region including $4.5 billion in GRP, 22, 000 jobs and 36, 600 residents, not to mention huge benefits for our services and infrastructure.”

A Defence spokesperson said Defence regularly undertakes reviews of its estate holdings to ensure that a base or establishment continues to meet the current and future capability requirements of the Australian Defence Force.

“Any future Defence capability impacts in the central Queensland region would be subject to Defence planning, Government and parliamentary approvals,” they said.

To view the CQROC Defence Strategy, head to: https://cqroc.org.au/publications/