SHOALWATER EXPANSION: Landry tells of when she found out
5.50pm: CAPRICORNIA MP Michelle Landry has responded to a request from the ALP candidate for the last election about the Shoalwater Bay expansion.
Leisa Neaton this morning called for the Federal MP to release information about when she found out about the land acquisition required for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
Ms Neaton claimed Ms Landry knew before the double dissolution election was called on May 8.
However, Ms Landry has hit back at that allegation.
"I initially found out about general details of the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore in late May (2016), the afternoon before everyone else, through a government briefing,” she said.
"Naturally, the benefits of extra troops from Singapore and a $2.25 billion defence injection for Queensland was a major announcement that I and our business community welcomed
"However, the underlying serious consequences of acquiring more land, social issues, jobs in rural communities; and the wider economic impact on property owners and Mum and Dad run businesses in the Marlborough township was brought to my attention in more recent times.
"Landholders began to flag their most serious concerns with me, about the time defence sent them letters to invite them to discuss the expansion, one on one.”
Ms Landry said she is relaying the concern of local impacted by the expansions to her Parliamentary colleagues, including Defence Minister Marise Payne. I continue to engage with local people and industries in the district.
"I am insisting that the ADF thoroughly assess the social and economic impacts of any expansion of the training area, and that this report be available for public scrutiny. I urge them to make the impact on local people an urgent and key priority.
"I drove the Stanage Road just a few weeks ago to talk to residents about local issues and I visited landholders and small businesses in the Marlborough district before Christmas. This was specifically to talk to business operators in the town and to property owners about the impact on them and the process the ADF is currently going through in developing expansion plans.
"I understand the need for our troops, and visiting troops from our key partners Singapore, the United States and elsewhere, to have areas where they can conduct realistic large-scale training exercises, and also the economic benefits that will flow to our region through the $1 billion to be invested in upgraded facilities in and around the training area.
"The ongoing viability of towns such as Marlborough and the economic value of beef and other primary industries in the region and the health and wellbeing of local families - cannot be overlooked.
"The past few weeks have seen the initial round of consultations by the ADF, with a second round planned for early 2017 ahead of more detailed planning by ADF during the year. Throughout this process, I will continue to be in constant contact with the Defence Minister, and in turn ensure that the ADF keep local residents fully informed of plans and progress.”
9.15am: THERE has been a lot of media attention surrounding the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay military training grounds and the effects it will have on current residents.
With farmers and businesses in Marlborough, Ogmore and Stanage Bay unsure about their futures, Leisa Neaton has offered her support and apologies.
In a letter to the editor, Neaton calls on Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry to "make it clear exactly what she knew at the time about the proposed land acquisitions and when she knew it”.
In the letter Neaton said during the federal election campaign Michelle Landry was quick to claim the credit for the expansion of military training exercises.
"This announcement was made just prior to the double dissolution election being called, limiting Senate scrutiny,” Ms Neaton said in her letter.
"As the candidate opposing Ms Landry at the time, I never considered the possibility that the increased training activity would mean that landholders would be subject to forced acquisition.
"To the farmers and businesses in the Marlborough, Ogmore and Stanage Bay communities, I offer my apology for not enquiring about this scenario.”
Ms Neaton says she now calls on the Member for Capricornia to make clear exactly what she knew at the time about the proposed land acquisitions and when she knew it.
"I can only imagine how landholders and business owners in these communities felt as they headed into the Christmas period, unsure about their futures.”
We are currently seeking comment from Michelle Landry.