Navy should stay anchored in Sydney

The NSW government has thrown its support behind the navy remaining at Garden Island rather than a move to Port Kembla.

27th Apr 2015


 

Navy should stay anchored in Sydney: Mike Baird

 

The NSW government has thrown its support behind the navy remaining at Garden Island rather than a move to Port Kembla.

In a submission to the 2015 defence white paper, NSW Premier Mike Baird says the government wants the navy to remain at Garden Island.

Illawarra-based Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells also made a submission looking to have Port Kembla considered as a new home for Garden Island – known to the navy as Fleet Base East.

That location is under increasing pressure, with the navy being forced to share the space with cruise ships.

Some of the region’s leaders met on Wednesday to present a united front on moving the base to Port Kembla and to look to lobby politicians and the navy itself.

In a covering letter for the NSW government’s submission, Mr Baird asks for the federal government to publicly state its support for Garden Island.

‘‘The White Paper should confirm Fleet Base as the home port for the Landing Helicopter Docks and Air Warfare Destroyers,’’ Mr Baird’s letter said.

The submission itself also asks the Commonwealth government to ‘‘consider whether part of Australia’s submarine fleet should be based at Fleet Base East’’.

However, the submission does consider the possibility of augmenting Fleet Base East with other naval locations in the state.
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‘‘The NSW government would welcome the opportunity to explore with the Commonwealth government ways of meeting both expanding navy capability requirements along the NSW seaboard and the state’s growth and development,’’ the submission said.

The Premier also recognises the contribution the defence forces make to the NSW economy with Commonwealth spending in the last financial year passing $5.8billion.

‘‘This equates to approximately 30per cent of total Defence expenditure,’’ the letter said.

‘‘More than 80 Defence bases and facilities and approximately 28per cent of Australia’s civilian and military personnel are located in NSW; more than in any other state or territory.’’

When asked if the NSW government would accept a navy move to Port Kembla, given it would still benefit the state’s economy, the Premier’s department effectively said no.

‘‘The NSW government supports the continued use of Garden Island by Defence,’’ a spokesman for Mr Baird said. ‘‘However we continue to call for increased access for cruise ships at this site.’’

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said the support for Garden Island did not rule out the possibility of Port Kembla being used as well.

‘‘I don’t think the two things are inconsistent,’’ she said.

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