Government earmarks $875m for nationwide ADF base upgrades

By: Charbel Kadib

Military bases across the country are set to benefit from a major investment in infrastructure upgrades as part of the Commonwealth government’s latest pre-election commitment.

The Commonwealth government has announced it would invest $875 million in 2022-23 for upgrades and sustainment activities at ports, barracks, airfields, working accommodation, training areas and communication stations across the country.

The investment, which forms part of the Defence Estate Works Program, will support a total of 234 projects, including:

  • 79 projects in NSW worth $298 million;
  • 41 in Queensland worth $166 million;
  • 34 in the Northern Territory worth $112 million;
  • 29 in Victoria worth $122 million;
  • 28 in South Australia worth $106 million; and
  • 23 in Western Australia worth $71 million.

In announcing this latest $875 million pledge at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth — which comes just days after $244 million was committed for upgrades to RAAF Base Curtin — Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said it represents the biggest investment in the Estate Works Program since the contract began in 2014, adding it would support the $38 billion push to expand the Australian Defence Force by 30 per cent over the next 18 years.

“The Defence estate is an important national asset and is an integral part of enabling Defence to meet its force capabilities,” Minister Dutton said.

“Just weeks ago, we announced our plans to grow the size of the ADF across all the Army, Royal Australian Navy and Air Force, and we know that if we are to attract additional personnel, we need to ensure our facilities are safe and fit for purpose.”

This nationwide overhaul of defence infrastructure also follows a visit from a US delegation, led by US Indo-Pacific Command’s Director for Logistics and Engineering, Brigadier General Jered Helwig, which has toured bases and facilities in Australia to advance commitments announced following the Australian-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2021.

These included the establishment of combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high-end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.

This latest $875 million commitment is tipped to generate approximately 1,660 jobs, with a focus on creating employment opportunities for local communities.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the works would create unique opportunities for local defence contractors.

“These facilities are often in regional parts of Australia, meaning small and medium businesses in these areas get the chance to play a vital role in the upgrade and maintenance of our Defence facilities,” Minister Price said.

“For many of these businesses, winning work on these projects will result in new jobs being created.

“With our $270 billion investment in Australia’s defence capability, we are going to continue to drive job growth for years to come.”

The projects are scheduled to be released via AusTender in the coming months.

This is the latest of a number of pre-election Defence announcements from the Commonwealth government.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $4.3 billion investment in the development of the first large-vessel dry docking facility at Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia, and a pledge to construct a new east coast naval base.


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