Taskforce to examine navy move from Sydney to Brisbane

  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
KEVIN Rudd has committed to lifting defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP, but has declined to give a timeline for the multibillion initiative after announcing a plan to relocate key navy assets to Australia's north.

The Prime Minister today announced a three-person taskforce would take 24 months to provide a report to government on the relocation of significant parts of the navy from Sydney's Garden Island to northern outposts if he won the September 7 election.
The taskforce - consisting of the chief of the defence force, the secretary of the defence department and the chief of navy - would advise government on the recommendations contained in the 2012 Defence Force Posture Review.
Currently defence spending is running at $25.4bn for the 2013-14 year or 1.59 per cent of GDP. This means the cost of relocating the navy base and lifting overall defence spending will cost many billions of dollars in coming years."Of course, our objective remains to sustain defence expenditure at 2 per cent of GDP," Mr Rudd said today.

Mr Rudd has made foreign policy and defence a central plank of his campaigning over the past few days, flying urgently to Canberra on Saturday to receive briefings on the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria and today flagging dramatic changes to the structure of Australia's defence forces.
In his address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney this morning, Mr Rudd said the force posture review had recommended the government consider an alternative location for Fleet Base East at Sydney's historic Garden Island.
The review suggested defence plan for a supplementary base in Brisbane for submarines and large amphibious ships and that options be developed for amphibious ships to embark army units in Brisbane, Townsville and Darwin.
"If re-elected the government will establish the future navy taskforce that will provide advice to government on implementing these recommendations and other recommendations of the Australian Defence Force Posture Review and the 2013 Defence White Paper," Mr Rudd said.

"The taskforce will provide advice on the timing, proportions and implementation of moving some or all of fleet base east to Queensland or Perth and developing, upgrading or expanding Darwin and Broome."
Mr Rudd said that Australia's national security challenges going into the future would lie to Australia's northern approaches.
He said that Australia's defence force would need to undertake humanitarian and disaster relief operations in the immediate neighbourhood, conduct operations to Australia's north and that there would be enhanced co-operation with the US and other regional partners.

Mr Rudd said that he expected any relocation of fleet elements to be finalised and completed by 2030.
"This would include a major strategic decision to deploy the navy's most important ships where they'll be best placed to protect Australia's interests and quickly respond to challenges," he said. "The relocation of fleet base east would also deliver economic benefits to NSW and Queensland. It would help open up Garden Island to the possibility of exciting new uses such as greater public green spaces on Sydney's foreshore."

However, the 2013 White Paper cast doubt over the relocation of naval assets up north. It explicitly stated that the government would "proceed with plans to develop Fleet Base East (Garden Island) as the home port for the Landing Helicopter Dock Ships and Air Warfare Destroyers".

But, in his remarks to the Lowy Institute today, Mr Rudd said that relocating these assets to Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin and HMAS Stirling in Perth would help set a higher tempo for military operations.
Speaking later at a doorstop, Mr Rudd said the money for the relocation would not come from within the defence budget and that details on the total costs would be provided by the three-man taskforce he would establish.

"We will not be drawing from within Defence's existing budget for the future operationalisation of this plan," he said.
Mr Rudd said he had been in "deep consultations" with the Defence Minister about the plan, but did not say whether he had consulted with the top navy brass.


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  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
To be honest this should have already been done years ago.  Who is going to invade us in Sydney? NZ?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
This is an interesting development and I do agree the base should have been moved north years ago.  It is just not practical to have your fleets in Sydney when they could be based much further north (Townsville) where the action is likely to come from.

To suggest otherwise is just stupid.  Get the Navy up into the Asian regional protecting the northern seas.

Barry O'Farrell lashes Kevin Rudd in harbour showdown over proposed Navy relocation

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell has used a chance encounter with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to confront him over his proposal to relocate naval capabilities away from Sydney's Garden Island.
Mr O'Farrell arrived as the Prime Minister courted the media at a harbourfront location overlooking Garden Island, prompting a heated exchange.
"Good morning, Kevin. A phone call would have been helpful," Mr O'Farrell said.
"I'm happy to share, your predecessor could share, you should learn to share."
Mr Rudd had little to say before both leaders walked on.
"You've said you want more cruise ships," Mr Rudd said.
The Premier then held his own media conference to outline what damage could be done to the NSW economy by sending naval resources north.
"We stand to lose 4,000 direct jobs, all because we have a federal political leader so spooked by the polls he will do anything, even use defence infrastructure, as a tactic to try and win votes north of the NSW border," Mr O'Farrell said.
"What I know is that you don't play politics with this sort of defence infrastructure."
Labor's Garden Island reviewThe Prime Minister announced his plans to downgrade Garden Island during an address at Sydney's Lowy Institute this morning.
Mr Rudd said a taskforce would examine moving the Navy's headquarters from Garden Island to Queensland.
"Relocating some or all of the Fleet Base East to Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Perth could take advantage of Brisbane's location as a transit point to operational areas for submarines and amphibious ships, and to amphibious mounting bases in Townsville and Darwin," he told the Lowy Institute.
Mr Rudd said it would take the taskforce two years to make recommendations and he expected the move would be completed by 2030.
"Our national security challenges in the future lie to our north-east, to our north and to our north-west," he explained.
Last year's Force Posture Review highlighted capacity constraints at the Darwin and Cairns naval bases, and suggested a long-term master plan be developed.
However, the Government earlier this year ruled out the option of establishing a new base at Brisbane, saying it would cost about $6 billion.
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James says the Force Posture Review highlighted valuable features at Garden Island that mean the base is worth retaining.
"There is no deepwater harbour on the east coast of Australia, except Sydney, suitable for an east coast naval base," Mr James said.
"How would you duplicate the massive engineering force support available in Sydney anywhere else in the country?"
Cruise ships to follow in Navy's wake?The Tourism and Transport Forum says moving the Navy out of Garden Island would free up much needed space for cruise ships.
Cruise ships already use the base when Naval operations permit.
TTF spokesman Ken Morrison says the cruise ship industry is expected to bring in $1 billion a year by 2020.
"The next generation of cruise ships are too large to go under the Harbour Bridge and only one of those at a time can sit at the Overseas Passenger Terminal," Mr Morrison said.
Patricia Forsythe from the NSW Business Chamber says continuing co-operation between the Navy and cruise industry would be better.
"We probably would like to see both of them in place," she said.
Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth includes the Garden Island base.
He is also sceptical about the benefits of relocation.
"It's all very well, in a breezy kind of way, to say, 'Oh, well, there's a big chunk of real estate on Sydney Harbour, it's obviously worth a bomb'," he said.

  Y115 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Portland
Sydney has been invaded before:  http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/underattack/sydharbour.html
  raymond Deputy Commissioner

Location: Gladstone, Queensland
Gladstone has a deepwater port and a lot of heavy engineering buisness,steel can be welded and turned just as well any where north of Sydney.

Most of the ships that call here now are a lot larger than the navy ships that call Sydney home.

  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
To be honest this should have already been done years ago.  Who is going to invade us in Sydney? NZ?
The Japanese did but that is almost 70 years ago... nothing to really do with modern warfare.

In the modern world, you don't have a navy base where you might get attacked because a navy base is a target. Navy does it work at sea, not in a dock. Brisbane is also some distance from the sea. The shipping lane goes across to Moreton Island, then follow the north west channel to Caloundra before you head out. Can take ours to move a warship to sea.

A navy base is where you have the workers. This was all about Rudd trying to get votes for his own electorate by moving jobs at least 5000 jobs from Sydney.

Garden Island in Sydney is well established, has excellent facilities, one of the best dry docks in the Southern Hemisphere... and they wanted to give it up for the 1/2 dozen cruise ships that don't fit under the harbour bridge and only really visit from February - March?? Dumb idea.

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