SHOALWATER: Committee to ensure win-win for all stakeholders
A STEERING committee should be set up to help guide the process of investing Singapore money at Shoalwater Bay to ensure all stakeholders have a win-win outcome.
This is the view of Livingstone Shire Council, which will submit a formal request for the committee to Defence Minister Marise Payne in the near future.
Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig said the call comes after the public meeting in Marlborough, which raised a number of issues with the proposal, particularly why the Australian Defence Force needs to acquire so much land.
"The bottom line is, is it really in the national interest or is it a 'nice thing to have' for the Army?" he said.
Cr Ludwig raised questions around the speed the process had undertaken to date, from the announcement in May about the $1 billion spending to sending out acquisition notices in November, and by January having acquired two properties.
Colonel Kevin Packham, Singapore Joint Development Implementation Team, confirmed at Monday's meeting that the ADF had acquired the property Lyndon and had a contract to acquire Glen Prairie, which is believed to be signed off this week.
Both properties were advertised on the market when the defence force entered contracts to purchase the land.
"Why are they even acquiring land before they've done their business case?" Cr Ludwig asked.
"They are not really doing it in an astute way."
The Morning Bulletin asked the Department of Defence on Friday what studies had been done so far, when the findings will be released, if the impact on the Rockhampton meat processing industry was being studied and the impact on Marlborough businesses.
In a response on Tuesday, a Defence department spokesperson said an assessment of the social and economic impacts of the initiative was underway by KPMG and would be completed by mid-2017.
"This assessment will focus on the social and economic impacts of the expansion and development of Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) including the impact on the local meat processing industry," the spokesperson said.
"Defence has also initiated consultation with potentially affected landowners and leaseholders.
"Defence will assess this feedback as part of a master planning activity in 2017 and will propose the required expansion areas for Government consideration in the second half of 2017."
Who Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig proposes to be on the steering committee:
Livingstone Shire Council
Australian Defence Force
Agriculture Minister for Queensland
Agriculture Minister for Australia
Minister for Northern Australia
Representatives from the local grazing community
Other stakeholders - i.e. Marlborough business owners