Billion-dollar funding announced for northern bases.

The federal government has announced $3.8 billion in priority funding over the next four years to deliver upgrades for the nation’s northern bases network.

The Australian Defence Force’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases was identified as a key priority area under the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) unveiled on Monday, 24 April.

Under the DSR recommendations, the Australian Army would be optimised for long-range strike capability and littoral operations in northern land and maritime spaces, while the Royal Australian Air Force would support operations in the north through surveillance, air defence, strike and air transport.

The report recommended major works on northern air bases including improvements to runway and apron capacity, fuel supply and storage, accommodation and security.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles said the government has directed Defence to deliver upgrades and development of the northern bases network as a matter of priority.

“As the Defence Strategic Review rightly observes, our northern bases are a huge asset and critical to Australia’s ability to project.

“Our immediate investment in these bases will ensure our Defence Force is able to operate from them effectively.

“This is an important opportunity which will ensure the ADF has the infrastructure and capabilities it needs into the future.”

More than $2 billion will be allocated for critical air bases between RAAF Base Learmonth and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, as well as air bases in the Northern Territory and northern Queensland.

More than $1 billion in funds has been set aside for upgrades to land and joint estate capabilities centred around training area upgrades in the Northern Territory, Robertson Barracks in Darwin, and Lavarack Barracks in Townsville.

Around $600 million will be put forward for maritime estate investments including HMAS Coonawarra, HMAS Cairns, and the Harold E Holt Naval Communications Station, as well as an additional $200 million contributed for acceleration of additional projects.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said investment in the north will build defence capabilities that Australia needs for the future.

“This (investment) will mean more opportunities for defence industry in northern Australia, which will mean more jobs in communities across the north,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite said the improvements program will prioritise opportunities for local industry and Indigenous companies to be involved in delivering work.

“Defence bases and infrastructure in the north are essential enablers for Australia’s capability and major drivers of economic activity,” he said.

“Strengthening bases in the north further supports Defence operations and provides key economic opportunities in regional and remote areas.”


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