Thursday, 20 August 2015
Public Works Committee; Approval of Work
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Sir John Monash Centre, Australian National Memorial Villers-Bretonneux, France.
As I advised the House when referring this project to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the Department of Veterans' Affairs proposes to construct the Sir John Monash Centre at the site of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France. The Sir John Monash Centre, which will bear the gallant First World War general's name, will provide a lasting legacy of the Anzac Centenary and will ensure that the service and sacrifice Australian diggers made on the Western Front during World War I is not forgotten.
The existing Australian National Memorial records the names of more than 10,700 Australians who died in France during the First World War and who have no known grave. The Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, located adjacent to the National Memorial, contains more than 1,500 graves. Seven hundred and thirty-one of them belong to Australians.
The Australian National Memorial site at Villers-Bretonneux was recommended by eminent experts and endorsed by the Australian government as the appropriate location for the Sir John Monash Centre. Current visitation routes along the Western Front do not frequently pass near the Australian National Memorial. The establishment of the Sir John Monash Centre on the same site—a drawcard to the area—is expected to change visitation patterns across the Somme.
The proposed works will include an interpretive centre building, a fit-out comprising a range of high-quality interactive multimedia interpretive displays, a gallery with a range of highly immersive and interactive multimedia content, and an integrated building control. The centre will tell the story of the extraordinary efforts of the 290,000 Australians who served on the Western Front with courage and distinction. It will include the great victories of 1918 alongside the tragedies at Fromelles and Pozieres in 1916 and at Bullecourt and Passchendaele in 1917, as well as the great offensive of 8 August 1918 at Villers-Bretonneux, which ultimately led to the end of the war.
The committee has conducted an inquiry and is of the view that the project signifies value for money for the Commonwealth and constitutes a project that is fit for purpose and expedient to carry out. On behalf of the government, I would like to thank the committee for once again undertaking a timely and rigorous inquiry.
Subject to parliamentary approval, construction is expected to begin in January 2016 and be completed for the opening of the centre on 25 April 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War Battles of Villers-Bretonneux. The Sir John Monash Centre will provide a moving experience for all nationalities who visit, honour Australian service and sacrifice in France and Belgium during the First World War and, importantly, bestow a lasting international legacy of the Centenary of Anzac. I commend the motion to the House.
Question agreed to.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown Redevelopment Stage 2 Project.
As I advised the House when referring this project to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the Department of Defence is proposing to upgrade and replace ageing critical infrastructure and construct new facilities at the Royal Australian Air Force Williamtown Base, New South Wales.
The Royal Australian Air Force has been a part of the Hunter since the late 1930s, when the Defence practice area was first designated at Williamtown. The training area became RAAF Station Williamtown in 1941, with the mission to provide protection for the port and steel-manufacturing facilities of the Hunter. It also hosted the Williamtown Flying School.
Since the 1940s Williamtown RAAF Base has been Australia's main tactical fighter base, accommodating fighter planes including the Mirage, the Sabre, the Meteor and the FA18 Hornets. RAAF Base Williamtown is the home base for the tactical fighter element of the Air Combat Group and the Airborne Early Warning and Control element of Surveillance and Response Group. Into the future, RAAF Base Williamtown will remain the nation's main fighter pilot training base and will house most of the planned F35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning aircraft.
The proposed project, which has been endorsed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, will improve the functionality, capability, security and compliance of the facilities at RAAF Base Williamtown. The project includes an upgrade of the base engineering services, relocation of the main base entrance, new and refurbished working accommodation, an auditorium and commercial facilities, and the demolition of dilapidated buildings that are not suitable for adaptive re-use.
The committee has conducted an inquiry and is of the view that the project signifies value for money for the Commonwealth and constitutes a project that is fit for purpose and expedient to carry out. On behalf of the government, I would like to thank the committee for once again undertaking a timely inquiry. Subject to parliamentary approval of the project, construction is expected to begin in mid-2016 and to be completed by mid-2021. I commend the motion to the House.
Question agreed to.