I’d like to congratulate the Defence Force on its announcement of a $300 million upgrade to the naval base HMAS Cairns and the home basing of four new Offshore Patrol Vessels in Leichhardt.
The 2016 Defence White Paper had originally committed $100 million for the OPV wharf and infrastructure upgrade by 2020, so this announcement includes an extra $200 million to complete the works needed to accommodate these larger vessels.
This announcement comes on top of the $22 million which has already been planned for a mid-term refresh in 2019-20, and another $313 million for the redevelopment of HMAS Cairns post 2025-26.
That takes the overall committed spend for HMAS Cairns to $635 million over the next 12 years, which is $215 million more than the $420 million first committed in the white paper.
This announcement reinforces the Defence Force’s commitment to Far North Queensland as it works to build a ship maintenance and sustainment hub in Cairns.
Local businesses will also have the opportunity to provide support to the new patrol vessels.
Extra employment opportunities and jobs for the future will be created in Leichhardt, not just through the new work created at HMAS Cairns but also through the new services that will be required by the many families that will move to Cairns as a result.
I congratulate the Defence Force and welcome your greater presence in Leichhardt.