Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you during Budget Week – a budget that again emphasised the importance of Defence to the safety and security of our nation.
I want to acknowledge in particular:
- The Commander of Joint Health and Surgeon General of the Australian Defence Force – Rear Admiral Sarah Sharkey.
- The Director-General of Garrison Health Operations – Commodore Nicole Curtis.
And everyone else here today who is involved in this great project.
It is good to be back.
As some of you may know, I spent four years of my life here, three years at ADFA and then one year at Duntroon. Defence took me around Australia, up to Darwin and then to Perth where I now represent the seat of Canning.
So, Duntroon is a familiar place for me.
In fact, the old health centre here is something I know quite well, I spent fourteen days here in 2002 after doing section attacks out at Majura range and having an infected elbow, I remember that time distinctly because many of the cadets here were traumatised by Mooseheads burning down at the time.
I then came back for my wisdom teeth in 2004, I remember the – well, it was a bit of a myth amongst cadets – but we all thought we had bruised sternums at the time. But I am sure it was not the case.
It is a great facility, but even better now that it’s been improved.
Ladies and gentlemen, we ask a lot of our men and women in uniform.
They put their bodies on the line for our country.
Whether that’s through their rigorous military training; or providing humanitarian support; or support to communities affected by bushfires and floods; or when they are serving in our region and beyond, helping to maintain security and stability.
It’s therefore paramount that we look after the health and wellbeing of those Australians who, through their service, keep our nation safe and secure.
The Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College Duntroon are among the world’s finest and most respected military training institutions. I know this first-hand.
And first-class health services are essential when it comes to military training.
Today, it is my great pleasure to open this new Health Centre.
The Government has invested more than $250 million dollars to upgrade health facilities across 13 Australian Defence Force sites nationally.
Construction of this $40 million dollar Health Centre here in Canberra was completed last year.
The primary contractor awarded 87 per cent of the work to local businesses, with the project generating jobs for more than 1,000 workers.
This state-of-the-art facility will deliver high-quality health care to around 6,700 defence personnel posted to Canberra and the surrounding New South Wales area, or those visiting our nation’s capital.
This new centre consolidates three health facilities into one.
It will deliver integrated primary and mental health care services.
There are consulting, triage, and procedure rooms, a dental department, physiotherapy clinic, and a pharmacy.
There is also an 18-bed ward for low dependency inpatient care, and ambulance and patient transport facilities.
The Health Centre will be staffed by 185 people, including military personnel, public servants, and contracted health providers.
Ladies and gentlemen, the health of our Australian Defence Force personnel matters – not only for themselves, but for their families and the communities they serve.
It matters for our sovereignty because we need healthy military personnel to do the job we ask of them.
This new Health Centre – and investments in Defence health care right across the country – speak to the Government’s desire to ensure our men and women in uniform are fit to fight, fit to work, and fit for life.
Such investments complement those we are making in Defence’s wider infrastructure.
Just last week, my friend and colleague Minister Dutton announced an investment of $875 million dollars for works at 234 Defence sites across the country – including at barracks, ports, airfields, bases and training areas.
19 of those projects will be right here in the Australian Capital Territory representing an investment of $78 million dollars.
In sum, the Estate Works Program will generate more than 1,600 construction jobs this year and next around the nation.
And it shows just how our important these investments in Defence sites are to our security and economic objectives.
Once again, it’s great to be back at Duntroon.
Thank you for having me this morning.
It’s a real pleasure to officially open this new facility.