MEMBER for Capricornia Michelle Landry says Central Queensland is set for one of the biggest jobs and retail spending boosts in defence history following a historic deal signed between Australia and Singapore defence.
Under the deal announced yesterday, Singapore will spend up to $1billion in Capricornia to upgrade defence infrastructure, roads and hi-tech military hardware centred on operations at Shoalwater Bay, north of Rockhampton.
Ms Landry said Singapore will now stage two training exercises a year and more than double the number of military personnel (to 14,000) that visit the region annually - boosting retail and tourism spending in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast.
The MP emerged from private briefings with Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne, retired Trade Minister and trade envoy Andrew Robb and the Prime Minister's office to talk of the deal.
She described the coup, secured by the Liberal-National Coalition Government, as "one of the biggest defence related economic injections in history for Rockhampton, Yeppoon and the Capricorn Coast."
"This is massive," she told the Bulletin.
"In a time when CQ is suffering a major mining downturn and in need of a jobs boost, the spins off for potential new employment opportunities, business and construction contracts, retail spending and tourism could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to local businesses over time."
"I have been pushing hard for more defence-related spending in Capricornia and this announcement is the fruition of long negotiations with Singapore. This is truly one of the most extraordinary deals to directly benefit our local economy that we will see. It's a once in a lifetime boost to Rockhampton, Yeppoon and the Capricorn coast by a foreign country."
She said Singapore defence already spends on average $35 million a year in Capricornia for its Exercise Wallaby.
This includes recreational retail and tourism spending, accommodation, hospitality and engaging local contractors for logistics and supplies.
Ms Landry said this spending was now set to skyrocket. She has urged the Australian Government to ensure that Singapore must use local suppliers where suitable.
Ms Landry said for the local economy, this would ensure a consistent spending in the local economy throughout the year - including non-tourism periods.
"The spin off for contractors and local business is huge, if they want to engage with the Singapore visitors."
Ms Landry said the deal with Singapore centred around negotiations on-a-par with free trade deals with Korea, Japan and China - personally negotiated by retired Trade Minister Andrew Robb.
"Only the Liberal-National Government could deliver this windfall to the local Rockhampton and Capricorn Coast community, because only the Coalition embarked on bold negotiations with countries world-wide to boost our economy," Ms Landry said.
Start dates and time frames are yet to be disclosed but the upgrade is expected to begin by the end of the year and rolled out over a number of years.
SHOALWATER BAY PLANS
Singapore will increase its troops from 6000 to 14,000 each year between Shoalwater Bay and Townsville.
Spend up to $1 billion in Central Queensland on activities around Shoalwater Bay.
Upgrade and construct new training and live fire combat zones, upgrade and resurface roads, airfields and other facilities.
Visit twice a year (instead of annually) with split training exercises from February to May and August to November.