LOCAL defence operations came under the spotlight today when Darren Chester, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, and Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch toured facilities in Cairns.
During their visit Mr Chester and Mr Entsch met with the patrol boat crew Ardent Five and toured HMAS Childers.
“HMAS Cairns remains an important strategic base in support of maritime operations across northern Australia,” Mr Chester said.
“HMAS Cairns is a home-port for our Armidale Class Patrol Boats and also Hydrographic ships, as well as home to the local Navy Cadet unit, Training Ship Endeavour.
“It was great to get on the ground, meet with personnel and learn more about the hard work and training of Australia’s navy men and women.”
Mr Entsch said Cairns was an important strategic hub for the defence of Northern Australia, with a number of key border security, customs and biosecurity operations for the Torres Strait coming out of Cairns.
“The importance of the North was also recognised in the inquiry into Developing Northern Australia,” Mr Entsch said.
“One recommendation called for the use of local companies for defence repairs and maintenance, and the other recommended that the Australian Government consider relocating additional defence assets to Northern Australia in accordance with the recommendations of the Defence White Paper.”
Mr Entsch said the Far North’s defence capabilities had recently been boosted thanks to funding being allocated in the Budget for three small, fast vessels for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in the Torres Strait.