Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel – Joint Media Release – US Marines complete first rotation to northern Australia

Today Defence releases the outcomes of Social and Economic Assessments of the impacts associated with the initial company-sized rotational deployments of 200 to 250 United States Marines to Darwin in 2012 and 2013.

The Assessments found the social impacts will be minimal or even negligible.  There will be a small and positive economic benefit associated with the 2012 and 2013 rotations of United States Marines.

The Social Assessment found that the rotations would have no impact on the demand for housing, infrastructure or social services in the Northern Territory and a negligible impact on the environment.

The Social Assessment found a low risk of anti-social behaviour associated with alcohol consumption.  United States Marine Corps policies and procedures are considered to be effective in helping guide and enforce professional and appropriate conduct by the Marines while in Australia.

The Economic Assessment found that United States Marine rotations are expected to inject approximately $1.8 million into the local economy in 2012, increasing to $2.3 million in 2013. Hospitality, retail and transport are identified as the key beneficiary sectors.

The Social and Economic Assessments also identified a range of risks and opportunities which have been assessed and are not considered to require urgent or significant action at this time. 

As a next step, an Assessment will now be undertaken of the impacts of rotational deployments of up to 1,100 US Marines to northern Australia.

This next Assessment will help inform Government consideration about the size, nature and timing of the next increment in possible future rotations.

The next Assessment process will involve community polling, public forums and public submissions and is expected to commence later this year.  Further information will be made available closer to the commencement of this Assessment.

The release today of the outcomes of the Social Impact Assessment and Economic Assessment follows the completion last week of the first rotation of United States Marine Corps personnel to northern Australia.  Around 200 Marines from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment departed Australia over the last week to return to their home station in Hawaii.

I acknowledge the professionalism and good conduct displayed by the first rotation of Marines. It is in line with the high standards expected of the United States Marine Corps, and is consistent with the findings of the Social Assessment.

This was the first rotation following the announcement by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and United States President Barack Obama in November 2011 that Australia would welcome rotations of United States Marines to northern Australia.

The intent over coming years is to establish a rotational presence of up to a 2,500 personnel Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), rotating into Northern Australia in the northern dry season. 

The US Marine Corps rotations use existing Defence facilities in Northern Australia for accommodation and training. Defence provided a range of support to this initial rotation and costs for this rotation have been shared under existing legal, financial and logistical arrangements. 

Since arriving in Australia in April 2012, the Marines have been hosted by the Australian Army’s 1st Brigade at Robertson Barracks near Darwin.  This co-location with the Australian Army has helped enhance the close and strong ties between the United States Marine Corps and the Australian Army, and has enabled the Australian Defence Force and the United States Marine Corps to share their respective experience and expertise. 

This first rotation of United States Marines has successfully completed a range of bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force in Australia, highlighting the capability and interoperability benefits the Australian Defence Force gains from such close interaction with the United States Marine Corps. 

The rotation supports Australia’s long-held strategic interests in supporting US engagement in our region in a manner that promotes peace and stability. The initiative provides new opportunities for Australian and US engagement with our partners in the region.

During the first rotation, Fox Company also conducted unilateral training activities at Defence training facilities in northern Australia, and has conducted training in the region with Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. 

Australia, Indonesia and the United States plan to hold a trilateral Australia-Indonesia-United States humanitarian assistance and disaster relief desk top exercise this year and a full scale exercise in 2013, under the general auspices of the East Asia Summit humanitarian assistance and disaster relief framework.

The Social Impact Assessment is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/USMCsocialassessment.pdf

The Economic Assessment is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/USMCeconomicassessment.pdf

Noetic Solutions Pty Ltd conducted the initial Social and Economic Assessments of the impacts associated with the company-sized rotational deployments of 200 to 250 United States Marines to Darwin in 2012 and 2013. 

Media Contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392

Mr Snowdon’s Office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796

Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999


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