Forces to boost business
ROCKHAMPTON can expect even more benefits to flow to the local economy when the Singaporean Armed Forces annual exercise kicks off this week in Shoalwater Bay.
Rockhampton Mayor Brad Carter said a larger contingent of troops was visiting this year and staying for a longer period.
The Singapore Armed Forces have trained at Shoalwater Bay for the last 20 years and earlier this year signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia to use the defence facility for 20 more days than last year's exercise.
“I expect that will increase the level of spend and we are expecting a participation of 6000 personnel this year,” Mr Carter said.
At four times the size of Singapore, the Shoalwater Bay Defence Facilities Area allows their troops to conduct a wider variety of combat training than would be possible on their home island.
Mr Carter said he was a strong supporter of the exercises and hoped the Singaporeans continued to expand their operations.
It was estimated that the 2008 exercises generated $24 million for local businesses.
One is Nextra at the Stockland Shopping Centre in Rockhampton.
Manager Janet Dingley said before the soldiers arrived, the business stocked up on Darrell Lea sweets, including Rocklea Road which were very popular with the troops.
Mr Carter said he had worked at building and maintaining strong personal ties with key ministers and figures in the Singaporean government including Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who he met in 2008 on a visit to the island nation.
A key aspect of benefit to the local economy was the four days each soldier had for “rest and relaxation” in the area following their training.
The Singaporeans will bring an array of weaponry and aircraft through the Rockhampton Airport including F16 fighter aircraft as well as Super Puma, Apache and Chinook helicopters.
The exercise is scheduled to last from Friday until November 24.
Noise complaints can be lodged by calling 1800675601.
- Annual exercise of the Singapore Armed Forces
- 6000 personnel taking part
- Troops training for 65 days at Shoalwater Bay
- Estimated benefit to economy in 2008 was $24 million