Senator justifies why Shoalwater expansion should happen
SENATOR Matt Canavan says the Government has acquired property against land owners' will before, and they are willing to do it again.
The Rockhampton-based senator said there was nothing new in the State LNP leader's bombshell yesterday that the Prime Minister had assured him alternative sites were being scouted by the Department of Defence for military purposes.
He said the Australian Government had announced the area west of Charters Towers, particularly Pentland and Greenvale, were on the ADF's radar before Christmas, though the ADF's preference remained the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
"I appreciate in Central Queensland it's not as common knowledge, we are looking west of Charters Towers," he said.
The confirmation followed a day of scepticism and confusion over the future of the $1 billion deal with the Singaporean army to ramp up its training and invest in infrastructure, weapons and heavy artillery.
Senator Canavan said he has briefed the Prime Minister on graziers' fears over compulsory land acquisitions.
He explained the justification for expanding Shoalwater's footprint.
"I'm not a military expert, I have to take advice on these matters, but I met with Defence yesterday and had a long discussion about what they need," he said.
"We are acquiring heavy wheeled vehicles that require greater gaps between training periods now...so we need a bigger area effectively because of that. Our weapons systems are at the longer ranges, modern weapons systems have an impact over wider areas, we need bigger buffer zones, that's why we need to expand these training facilities.
"We did this in Cultana, a training facility in South Australia a couple of years ago, we compulsorily acquired land there and it was difficult for those people, but they did that for their purposes, the Australian military.
"We need to do that in Queensland as well. It is a happy coincidence that we have friends like the Singaporeans who clearly need somewhere to train. They can't train in Singapore with those kinds of weapons, and we can partner with them and help fund these expansions by having that relationship."
Senator Canavan stressed the Australian military had priority use over the training facility, and the land and infrastructure was Australian owned.
Despite Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's position, Senator Canavan said the decision over the military expansion was ultimately one for Defence and the Government would decide based on the Defence Force's and community's needs.
Senator Canavan slammed the Labor Party, who have vocally opposed the expansion, and said their stance was "hypocritical" given they had compulsorily acquired land in Widebay and the Mary Valley.