Minister for Defence - Doorstop at RAAF Base Townsville, Queensland

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

Media contact
  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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22 April 2016

Subjects: 2016 Defence White Paper, infrastructure investment, local industry

EWEN JONES:

Thank you all for coming here this morning. I am absolutely proud to have Marise Payne, Minister for Defence, in our city. Defence is of course a cornerstone of our economy and cornerstone of our lifestyle in Townsville and to have Australia’s Defence Minister here to talk about the possibilities that come up through the Defence White Paper and the plans that are possible in Townsville, the growth that is going to come to this place over the next 15 – 20 years and through Lavarack and throughout the Pacific with the LHDs; all that sort of stuff that goes with Defence. It’s hugely important to us as a nation, and Townsville prospers as a Defence city. And that’s why the Minister is here and that’s why Defence is very important here.

The Minister will be travelling from here to 5 Aviation to see what’s going on with the MRH-90s and the Chinooks, then over to Lavarack Barracks we’ll be seeing the Townsville Port as well as Ross Island Barracks to ensure that the Minister’s across all these things on a first-hand basis and hearing from the people who wear the uniforms in our city.

Minister.

MINISTER PAYNE:

Thank you very much. Always great to be in Townsville and, in fact, this was the first Base I visited after I was appointed last year when I had the opportunity to come into the RAAF Base and actually take one of the MRH-90s with the CDF out to HMAS Canberra when she was doing her first work-up exercise off the coast then.

So, it’s great to be back, great also to have the opportunity to talk about the potential that is clearly outlined in the Defence White Paper and the Integrated Investment Statement–Integrated Investment Program for both this Base and for Lavarack as well. Very, very significant, major refurbishment programs for both facilities and a recognition by Defence and by the Government that those sorts of critical enablers actually making the Bases on which we ask the men and women of the ADF and APS in Defence, of course, to work, need to be kept to a particular standard. That hasn’t happened in the past.

It’s a very important part of what we’re going to do here and I also want to make it very clear that in doing that work we will be engaging local trades and that is a commitment that the Government has made through the Defence Industry Policy Statement as well, that when we do upgrades to regional areas like this, we’ll be using local trades as far as we possibly can. I think in business terms and in economic terms, they are very significant commitments.

Also, very pleased to have the chance to spend a bit of time with Ewen and meeting local men and women who are members of the Defence Force here. Ewen’s right; this is a very, very, very, important part of the fabric of Townville and of his community and I couldn’t be happier to spend some time here with my mate and my very good friend Ewen Jones, the fabulous Member for Herbert to have a chance to catch up with those people. Very happy to answer any questions.

JOURNALIST:

Those works that you were mentioning, how much will they be worth?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Here at the RAAF Base, it will be around $490 million and Lavarack around $550 million. So, very, very significant upgrades into this community, into the Defence facilities here and ones which we know are, in a number of cases, overdue, others will continue to tick over. A part of the ongoing works here, for example, we have upgrades coming to the Air Traffic Control Tower in the next year or so as well, separate from that major upgrade. So, I think they’re very important news for Townsville and I look forward to coming back on a regular basis to see progress.

JOURNALIST:

And specifically what you’re doing here today, how is it for you, how important is it for you to speak with the troops who have been over to Fiji?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Ah, well, it’s incredibly important for me. This is the second part of doing that. I’ve spent some time at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane ten days ago to talk with some of the troops there who deployed on HMAS Canberra, that was a first for them and today an opportunity for me to talk with the crews from the MRH-90s who did a phenomenal amount of work. Their work rate was extraordinary. We are very, very proud of that. But importantly, Fiji’s also very, very grateful. It made a huge difference to their capacity to recover from Cyclone Winston and to keep moving themselves.

JOURNALIST:

Minister, just on submarines; there’s reports that the Japanese Government’s considering directly appealing to the PM about the bid. Would that be appropriate and would that influence your decision?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Well, I’m not going to make any comment on the Competitive Evaluation Process. As I’ve said consistently, the announcement will be made in due course, this year and what individual governments do are matters for them.

JOURNALIST:

Will the Prime Minister be contacting the Japanese Prime Minister about the bid?

MINISTER PAYNE:

I think we’re going to continue to let the Competitive Evaluation Process take its course and the government will make an announcement and a decision in due course.

JOURNALIST:

Will funding for the submarines be included in the upcoming budget?  

MINISTER PAYNE:

Well, you’ll see that if you read the Integrated Investment Program and the Defence White Paper that that funding process has already been set out.

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned the upgrades; is the commitment to use local jobs on that – on those projects?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Yes, that’s what I said. I think it’s very, very important that regionally, as an organisation, as far as is possible we engage with local trades, local businesses to do exactly that. We have been very clear in the Defence Industry Policy Statement that we want to make sure that Australian industry – and this is defence industry specifically – is seen as a fundamental input to capability. But in the process of doing work on Bases, like RAAF Base Townsville and Lavarack, I want to make sure that local Townsville businesses are fundamental to making that work out.

JOURNALIST:

How soon are we going to see the first of these upgrades?

MINISTER PAYNE:

Well, the major refurbishments are planned for the second ten years of the White Paper. But as I said there is ongoing work happening at both facilities no. For example, in the next year or so you will see the new air traffic control tower here at Lavarack and other activities. You’ll also see some preparatory work done here, particularly underground. So I’m not sure ‘see’ is the right word but a lot of it is to make sure that the Base is ready for the major refurbishment.

EWEN JONES:

Additionally, when it comes to Lavarack, there are actually tenders out there at the moment. We are going to tender $121 million worth of upgrades at Lavarack Barracks. My job as the local Member is to try and get in front of Ministers here and the Generals who are actually rolling out this stuff to find out whether this is a $121 million job or if we can break that down. If we break that down to a $20 million job here and a $2 million job there, inside that envelope and open it up to local contractors, then that’s where you get the best result, that’s where value is driven for the taxpayer and that’s where value is driven for the local residents here.

ENDS

 

Media contacts:
Henry Budd (Minister Payne's office)                     0429 531 143
Defence Media                                                     (02) 6127 1999

 

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