House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Constituency Statements

Herbert Electorate: Defence Infrastructure

10:03 am

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Townsville is Australia's largest garrison city. We are fortunate to be the home of Lavarack Barracks, RAAF Base Townsville—there are five aviation regiments there—the Ross Island Barracks and the Townsville Field Training Area. Many bases means there are many facilities, which in turn flows on to great opportunities for local businesses for maintenance and construction. There are plenty of those opportunities right now for small businesses in Townsville. This is very timely as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I'd like to highlight a few of the opportunities now. Around 400 jobs are currently being supported by the construction of the $40 million CH-47 Chinook helicopter facility. I had the opportunity to inspect the progress of these works a few weeks ago. The project includes: new aircraft shelters; a support facility; working accommodation; and tarmac parking for the three Chinooks for the 5th Aviation Regiment. The locals working there are very excited to see our projects rolling out in the community, and through this COVID-19 pandemic they continue to be able to do their jobs on the bases.

Some 90 per cent of these projects have been delivered by local businesses, which is an excellent result. This has been achieved through Defence's Local Industry Capability Plan, which aims to ensure that as much of this kind of work as possible goes to our builders, concreters, plumbers, sparkies, architects and so on. We have plenty of very capable local contractors. I will always fight to ensure that they get the work over anyone else in the country, because we have highly trained, highly capable people.

On the same visit I had the opportunity to see more local workers constructing the $10.8 million health centre, also on the RAAF base. This is a much-needed upgrade for the members on base. It will house primary care, including mental health and rehab; an in-patient unit; a pharmacy; physiotherapy; and dental and health accommodation. It's extremely important because their last facility was substandard.

There's a lot more work in the pipeline for our local workforce at our Defence bases. We have just brought forward 21 new work packages which will be open for tender by the end of the year. These include one project worth more than $8 million, and the rest up to $8 million. These projects will include upgrades to buildings and important maintenance on existing facilities. The work requires a broad range of skill sets and supply chains. We know that locals are excited about this, and I want to encourage the ASMTI, the Australian-Singapore Military Training Initiative, to look local first and to support local businesses, because we have the capability to do it locally without all these blow-ins from all around the country.