Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey says there should be a fresh look at establishing a Royal Australian Navy base at the Port of Bundaberg.
Mayor Dempsey said Bundaberg is the northernmost port that’s not on the Great Barrier Reef.
In 2012, Council and Gladstone Ports Corporation published a “Naval Base Opportunity” document following the 2009 release of a Defence White Paper.
“Unfortunately there has been no movement since then,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Now is the ideal time for this logical idea to be re-examined.
“There has been recent speculation about a naval base possibly being developed in Brisbane. There are strategic and planning issues that make Bundaberg a more attractive proposition.”
Mayor Dempsey said up to 6000ha of land was available for a Bundaberg navy base, having been declared a State Development Area.
“It’s all currently owned by a single organisation, Bundaberg Sugar, making potential negotiations a lot simpler,” he said.
“We’re at the very southern boundary of the cyclone zone and we’re outside the Great Barrier Reef.
“We have a port that’s capable of achieving deep-water access that would not be competing with urban encroachment, which Brisbane and Sydney face, or with competition from the resource industry that Wollongong, Gladstone and other large ports face.”
Mayor Dempsey said the recent success of Exercise Talisman Sabre in Bundaberg showed the region is Defence ready.
“We had the Premier’s recent announcement of a new hospital for Bundaberg, which will create the sort of jobs and services that Defence partners and families expect,” he said.
“Any development in Brisbane would fairly quickly face the same issues that Garden Island currently faces.
“If the Navy is genuine about reorientating to the north in a similar fashion to what was done in the 90s then Bundaberg can offer a real opportunity to ensure that it’s future proof.”
Mayor Dempsey said he would write to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, asking her to discuss the Bundaberg navy base proposal with the Chief of Navy.
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