THE NSW government has recognised the importance of local naval base HMAS Albatross and has thrown its support behind the facility in its NSW Position on Defence paper.
The new NSW Position on Defence paper highlights the role played by the HMAS Albatross base and Albatross Aviation Technology Park in supporting the state’s defence industry.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said NSW was Australia’s most significant defence state, home to the largest number of bases and facilities.
“HMAS Albatross, the Albatross Aviation Technology Park and the nearby HMAS Creswell training facilities at Jervis Bay are a major resource for defence in terms of land area and facilities,” Mr Stoner said.
“HMAS Albatross is the largest naval establishment in Australia, making it of significant strategic importance for the navy.
“Today HMAS Albatross employs around 1200 Australian Defence Force personnel, 361 Australian Public Service personnel and 318 contractors. Defence employed 1247 people in the region in 2006, representing around 5 per cent of the population.
“HMAS Albatross operates closely with Garden Island naval base, which makes Kevin Rudd’s thought bubble of relocating the Sydney base even more short-sighted.”
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposal to move Fleet Base East from Garden Island to Brisbane raised many questions locally about the future and any possible ramifications it may have on HMAS Albatross.
Despite a spokesperson from the Labor campaign saying the announcement would have no effect on HMAS Albatross at Nowra, state MPs Shelley Hancock and Gareth Ward and Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash launched a United We Stand – Hands Off Our Base campaign.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock said HMAS Albatross played a critical role in supporting jobs and businesses in the local area.
“More than 600 Shoalhaven people work in defence related industries with a variety of skills including high technology aircraft operational systems, equipment and flight simulator maintenance, engineering and technical support, software and hardware design, garrison support and professional services,” she said.
“The University of Wollongong and TAFE NSW also have campuses in the Shoalhaven and provide strong vocational and educational programs involving local high schools and industry.”
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said the local industry was well-positioned to capitalise on defence investment in projects in the region.
“Significant investment is being made in base services redevelopment, major new capital acquisitions, and other projects in the precinct,” he said.
“This includes major new capital acquisitions of the new MH-60R maritime helicopters and training facilities, expected to start in early 2015.
“These projects will bring additional investment from industry in the already strong Shoalhaven industry cluster within the Albatross Aviation Technology Park which is being jointly developed by the NSW government and Shoalhaven City Council to give technology companies the opportunity to locate near the navy’s premier Fleet Air Arm Base.”
Mr Stoner said the NSW Position on Defence set the scene for a new era of engagement with defence decision makers by the NSW government and the NSW defence industry.