Central Queensland flies its Defence flag at Avalon Airshow – Media Release
3 March, 2023
Central Queensland’s strong commitment to Australia’s Defence will be on show when regional partners meet senior Defence and political figures this week at Avalon 2023, Australian International Airshow, Aerospace and Defence Exposition in Victoria.
Regional leaders will again advocate strongly for boosting Australian Defence Force presence in Central Queensland to leverage the region’s exceptional geographic, infrastructure and workforce capabilities, while also creating strategic depth and resilience against any threats from the north.
These were also the key themes of a submission to the Federal Government’s Defence Strategic Review (DSR) by a partnership of Regional Development Australia – Central and Western Queensland (RDACWQ), Rockhampton and Gladstone Regional councils, and Livingstone Shire Council.
The DSR examines the nation’s Defence Force posture, force structure and capabilities and was delivered to the Prime Minister on 14 February.
“While the government is considering it response to the DSR, our team will be on the ground at Avalon briefing Defence and political leaders on the critical details of our submission,” explains Grant Cassidy, Chair of RDA-CWQ.
“We expect the DSR will recommend hardening Australia’s northern bases, but increasing our nation’s resilience to attack will require strategic depth. Central Queensland can provide this depth. We have existing multi-domain advantages and plenty of future capacity to bolster Australia’s security needs.”
Brigadier (Retd) Michael Prictor AM DSM, who assisted the team in preparing the submission, agrees: “Central Queensland has tremendous potential to enable Australian and allied maritime, land and aerospace forces through basing, staging, logistic support, and provision of joint training facilities. These are both quick-win opportunities and medium- and long-term opportunities for Defence to leverage the region’s advantages.
“Through selective investment, the region’s significant existing infrastructure can be rapidly enhanced to improve Defence capability and preparedness and to significantly reduce the time it takes to receive, prepare, launch and support Australian and allied forces.
“There’s also plenty of affordable industrial land linked to major air, sea, rail and road infrastructure to support force expansion and to position Central Queensland as a domestic and regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief hub.”
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Tony Williams says Rockhampton Airport is one of the region’s key assets and is primed to add significant depth to Defence’s surveillance, reconnaissance, logistics, training, maintenance and joint operational activities.
“The Airport is already a vital logistics and transportation hub for Defence. Its 2,628-metre runway can host Australia’s largest military aircraft and there’s also adjacent land available for expansion. Defence could also leverage aviation deep maintenance facilities currently being developed by an Approved Maintenance Organisation.”
Central Queensland boasts two exceptional ports and an explosives facility that could play a vital role in sovereign weapons enterprise and maritime replenishment.
“Defence has a clear need for a deep-water port with close proximity to likely operational areas,” says Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett.
“Gladstone Port provides excellent maritime access via deep, dual shipping lanes. It’s an ideal point for rapid resupply and is the only Australian port between Brisbane and Darwin certified to host nuclear powered surface ships.”
Further North, Port Alma is the principal designated port on Australia’s east coast for handling large quantities of Class 1 explosives. It could easily resupply and rearm Australian and allied forces, including Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) for surface combatants and Collins-class submarines.
“In addition,” says Mayor Williams, “the nearby Bajool Reserve is one of four sites in Queensland currently reserved for safe storage, distribution and disposal of explosives. This combination of resources is unmatched.”
The Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) in Livingstone Shire is a world-class asset in Central Queensland’s arsenal.
“SWBTA covers almost 500,000 hectares and is one of the best and most versatile large-scale military training areas in the world,” explains Livingstone Shire Mayor Andy Ireland.
“It’s accessible by air, land and sea; it’s suitable for training in amphibious operations; and it’s the only facility in Australia where all three domains can be fully deployed and engage in joint military training exercises.
“SWBTA is undergoing a $2bn expansion as part of its long-standing relationship with the Singapore Armed Forces, and there’s huge opportunity to scale in support of advanced training, experimentation and mission staging, plus exceptional potential to receive, stage and integrate mobilised Australian or allied forces.”
RDA-CWQ Chair Grant Cassidy says Central Queensland is ready and able to support the DSR’s identified need to boost sovereign munitions manufacturing.
“Central Queensland’s experience in mining, agriculture and heavy transport enables us to offer strong economic specialisation in explosives, machinery repair and maintenance across all three domains. Leveraging civil expertise would deliver lower-cost sustainment of new armoured vehicles and deep maintenance capability.”
Mr Cassidy says: “Central Queensland is heading to Avalon because we believe these characteristics – plus an attractive climate and lifestyle – will enable our region to support Defence to meet the needs of the DSR’s recommendations.”
Defence Strategic Review (DSR)
The DSR is an independent review of Defence’s force structure, force posture and preparedness, and its investment prioritisation. It aims to ensure Australia is well positioned to meet its national security challenges over the next decade and beyond.
The review is being conducted by former Minister for Defence Professor the Hon Stephen Smith and former Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AK AFC (Ret’d).
Media Contact: Mr Anthony Gambling, email@example.com, 0447 620 688