The suitability of the Port of Bundaberg for defence investment was the subject of an official visit to the region by US Naval Attaché Captain Matt Ort.
Captain Ort met with Council and Gladstone Ports Corporation to learn more about the Bundaberg Region and the Bundaberg State Development Area, which incorporates the port.
He said it had been a productive visit.
“I got to check out your port facility and see if at some point it could be conducive to US Navy interest and I think it certainly is,” Captain Ort said.
“I think there is definitely potential.
“For a lot of reasons — geographically being able to avoid the [Great] Barrier Reef for environmental concerns is huge.
“But it’s going to need a lot of work before we are able to utilise it like it could be utilised.”
Defence investment attraction is one of Bundaberg Regional Council’s 2020 Advocacy Priorities.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said Captain Ort’s input had been helpful to ensure further investigations into defence investment attraction were focused in the right direction.
“We learnt that while the US Navy may not immediately look to construct new US Navy infrastructure here, it has in the past contributed towards the construction of appropriate infrastructure that enables them to use international ports,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“If the necessary port infrastructure was in place they could bring ships here on regular exercises such as the biennial Talisman Sabre exercise that our region already hosts.
“We now know we need to do a series of investigations into what infrastructure is required to attract US Navy usage.”
Mayor Dempsey said Council had already undertaken significant work in this space to make the region more attractive to defence investors.
“Council has been working in recent years to make the region as commercially attractive for investment as possible.
“This has involved a range of studies and analysis and most recently saw Council help to upskill 80 local small to medium businesses to increase their chances of securing defence contracts.”
Council is now hoping the State and Federal Governments will undertake a joint investigation into the feasibility of the Bundaberg State Development Area, including the Port of Bundaberg, for future defence and security uses.
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