Subject: Defence housing project at Lavarack Barracks
ALEX CHAMBERS: Well, work on a new multi-million dollar Defence housing project is supposed to be starting at Townsville Lavarack Barracks today. More than 500 units will be built on the base for personnel, including members of the 3RAR Battalion, which is relocating from Sydney to Townsville.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, says the project, which is due to be completed by mid-2013, should reduce the need to find off-base accommodation for soldiers. He's speaking here with Natalie Poyhonen.
SENATOR DAVID FEENEY: This is a program that we're very, very proud of, the single leap program, living accommodation program, which is all about building new and contemporary standard housing for our ADF men and women.
What's happening in Lavarack is an important part of that national program, we've selected a Queensland builder, Watpac Queensland Pty Limited, and they're being tasked with delivering some 540 new units by July, 2013. That's costing us something in the order of $130 million, and importantly for the local community, it will employ some 265 local people as that new accommodation is built.
NATALIE POYHONEN: In terms of expanding the accommodation on base at Lavarack, is this for people who have families, or will it be for people who don't have partners or families?
SENATOR DAVID FEENEY: Yeah, this is - this particular housing program is for single people, so there are some 540 units at Lavarack, 495 of those being for junior ranks, others for senior soldiers and officers, and it's for those who are without families.
But nonetheless, we perceived a need that the quality of that housing for those service men and women, needed to be improved, it was one of our 2010 election commitments, and we are now spending $1 billion across Australia on what is at the moment the Commonwealth Government's biggest public private partnership, to deliver that new quality housing for our people.
And a battalion from New South Wales, 3RAR, is being relocated, and this housing will help accommodate them as well, at the moment 3RAR is accommodated in temporary accommodation that we've leased, but of course in the medium and longer term, we're looking forward to providing them with this housing as well, that's right.
NATALIE POYHONEN: And you were mentioning that work is due to be finished by 2013, in terms of the numbers of Defence Force personnel that are in Townsville, do you think that this matches the existing need, or you still will have to be renting accommodation, or sourcing accommodation from outside of the barracks, to meet the demand for accommodation?
SENATOR DAVID FEENEY: Listen, our hope is that by the time we get to mid-2013, we will essentially have a precinct at Lavarack which is able to support the accommodation needs of the units that are based there. There might from time to time need to be housing that's leased to accommodate overflow, but fundamentally, what we're trying to achieve here is having a precinct on the base which is able to accommodate the soldiers that are garrisoned there, and most importantly, is able to accommodate them in quality housing, I mean this is housing that is - meets contemporary standards, and is a significant
step forward from some of the legacy housing that our people are used to.
So we're very, very pleased and proud of the standard of accommodation, and we're looking forward to the fact that the people at Lavarack, including 3RAR, will in short order be housed in the style to which I'm sure we all think they deserve.
ALEX CHAMBERS: That's the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, speaking with Natalie Poyhonen about that new housing Defence project that's happening in Townsville.