WATCH: Pollies fire shots over Shoalwater Bay facility
WITH almost $200 million in the balance, Shoalwater Bay became a political battle ground yesterday as the fight for the seat of Capricornia intensified.
In February, the Federal Government's Defence White Paper revealed $190 million investment in the training facility over the next 20 years.
Yesterday, assistant defence minister Michael McCormack flew into Rockhampton today to tour the training facility with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.
The Federal Government funds announced in February are aimed at supporting the range of new land and amphibious warfare combat vehicles.
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor, Margaret Strelow said in February the investment set the scene for an increase in the size and number of military exercises in the region.
Council also hopes to develop a dedicated military precinct adjacent to the airport and look at opportunities to store military equipment in the region between exercises.
Yesterday, Mr McCormack said the world-class facility was an important training facility for all areas of defence.
He said the investment in Shoalwater Bay was also "important for local jobs" and a key part of national security.
He said the funds promised for Shoalwater Bay could "all be at risk" if Labor was elected this year.
"They put defence spending back to 1938 levels as a proportion of GDP," he said.
"We're putting it back to where it ought to be, 2% of gross domestic product."
But Labor candidate for Capricornia Leisa Neaton responded, saying the party was committed to a bipartisan approach.
"Labor is committed to a bipartisan approach to national security and defence matters and we are broadly supportive of the Defence White Paper," she said.
"Labor supports the commitment to improving and upgrading the Defence estate taken in the White Paper to ensure Australia maintains a regionally superior ADF - this includes upgrading a number of ADF training areas such as Shoalwater Bay.
"Labor believes it is important that this significant investment in Defence estate brings the greatest possible benefit to the local community including local industry and small business.
"A Shorten Labor Government would take advice from Defence on any future infrastructure and estate management requirements."
Upgrades totalling $150 million will allow area to support new range of military vehicles over 10 years
A further $40 million planned from 2025-26 to 2035-36
Upgrades will allow area to support introduction of new armed intelligence and unmanned aircraft