Up to 14,000 Singaporean troops will train alongside Australian forces in North and Central Queensland after the state government struck a deal to develop state-of-the-art military training facilities.
Complex leasing arrangements for land at Greenvale and Shoalwater Bay were finalised for the multimillion-dollar defence industry effort that will subsidise jobs in the region.
“Our defence industry has great potential for growth in Central and North Queensland,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in a media release. “We’re working hard to grow this sector to rebuild our economy and create opportunities for locals.”
The endeavour was core to the Palaszcuk government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan, the premier said.
“I want to see shovels in the ground on new projects that will create jobs and stabilise our economy. That’s why we’re working hard to fast-track more initiatives like this one,” she said.
Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the deal was struck to secure the land required to deliver a training base in Queensland after nearly four years of negotiations with the federal government.
“The Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative will bring up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel to Queensland every year for 25 years, training for 18 weeks each time and spending money in our local communities while they do,” he said.
“Construction of the Greenvale facility will provide a boost of over $36 million to the North Queensland economy every year of its operation, providing good, secure local jobs that will drive the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.”
The Greenvale facility will be 200 km northwest of Townsville, with the Queensland government saying the deal was the culmination of extensive consultations and planning between the Australia Department of Defence, the Queensland government, traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, other landholders, and local councils.
State Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper said the Defence community was an important part of Townsville and North Queensland.
“It’s great to be part of a government that supports this exciting initiative which will create hundreds of jobs for people in the region,” Harper said.
State Mundingburra MP Les Walker, whose electorate is home to Lavarack Barracks, echoed Harper’s sentiment.
“Townsville has a proud and long military history, and the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative will continue this legacy,” he said.
Major construction works are already underway for the Shoalwater Bay site north of Rockhampton, with local MP Barry O’Rouke spruiking predicted local economic benefits.
A Department of Defence spokesperson said, “Defence is committed to implementing the Initiative in a way that enhances the economic benefits for communities and provides opportunities for local industries in North and Central Queensland across the life of the Initiative.”