Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.
Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion. contributed

BREAKING: Defence authorities reveal fate of Shoalwater Bay

ONE year on from when Marlborough area landholders received letters about the proposed expansion at Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, the Department of Defence have made another announcement.

Department of Defence today confirmed the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will be expanded and Defence will seek to develop an alternative site in the vicinity of Townsville as part of the Australia-Singapore Military training Initiative.

This follows consultation with the local community, businesses, representative groups and landholders.

One year ago, letters were sent to landholders in the proposed expansion areas talking about compulsory land acquisitions which caused havoc in the small community around Shoalwater Bay.

For the next few months news articles about a public meeting hosted by impacted landholders and businesses, multiple visits by politicians to the region, another meeting held at Lakes Creek Hotel hosted by the ALP featuring Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and other issues attracted attention across Australia.

 

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry with Lawson Geddes at his Couti-Outi property in the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion area.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry with Lawson Geddes at his Couti-Outi property in the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion area. contributed

Today's announcement by Defence includes that land will only be purchased from willing sellers in accordance with the Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne's statement on February 7, 2017.

Marlborough resident Danii McKenzie, whose husband owns and operates Marlborough Motors, said this was nothing the community didn't already know.

"This is exactly the same time as last year," she said.

"We are all still very much on edge.

"We still know we are in trouble."

Mrs McKenzie said landholders and business owners were contacted earlier today by the department to give them the heads up about today's announcement.

She said previous discussions had alerted them to the defence's plans to focus on expanding Shoalwater Bay with meetings with landholders to take place in the next two weeks to discuss who is willing to sell.

Mrs McKenzie said she had been told letters were still going to be sent to their solicitors as part of the course to remind landholders the Department was wanting to buy land in Shoalwater Bay and ask how much landholders want.

She said she knew of three landholders who were definitely going to sell and she feared what those parcels of land backed onto and if that would lead to a domino affect of more selling to Defence.

 

Federal Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon talking with grazier Rick Bowman about the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion.
Federal Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon talking with grazier Rick Bowman about the proposed Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion. Kerri-Anne Mesner

With regards to the Townsville situation, the Department of Defence, following the consideration of community feedback, will seek to purchase land from willing sellers at one alternate site near either Greenvale, Ravenswood or Pentland. Defence will not expand the existing Townsville Field Training Area to support this Initiative.

Based on initial assessments, a training area near Greenvale would best meet the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) and Singapore Armed Forces' requirements, both now and into the future.

Defence will conduct due diligence and further engagement with willing sellers near Greenvale. Sites near Ravenswood and Pentland will be considered should Greenvale prove not to be feasible.

The Government will seek to purchase land from willing sellers around Shoalwater Bay. Defence will also commence detailed construction design work for facilities and infrastructure.

Construction will occur at both locations in parallel from 2019.

The delivery of enhanced training areas in Central and North Queensland will benefit the ADF's training capacity, as well as Australia's bilateral defence relationship with Singapore. It is part of the Government's commitment to creating strong and enduring economic opportunities for local communities and businesses.

Defence will host community walk in sessions and industry engagement briefings in the local areas in the near future.

More information and contact details for the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative can be found by visiting the website:

www.defence.gov.au/Initiatives/ASMTI/  



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