Equipping personnel with the skills, knowledge and training they need to meet the challenges of the future is a priority for the Australian Defence Force. The 2016 Defence White Paper outlines that training areas are a key enabler in generating and sustaining Defence capability. This is consistent with the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, released on 18 June 2015, which identified the Government’s commitment to strengthening Defence’s presence in northern Australia.
Under the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP), the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative provides a unique opportunity to enhance suitable training areas in Central and North Queensland. The Initiative provides increased access to Australian military training areas by the Singapore Armed Forces. Building on our existing defence cooperation, it is an important means of strengthening Australia’s bilateral Defence relationship with Singapore.
On 6 May 2016, Australia and Singapore announced a new package of bilateral cooperation initiatives to advance the CSP that was first announced by the Prime Ministers of the two countries in a Joint Declaration on the 50th Anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015. These wide-ranging initiatives will continue to elevate Australia's partnership with Singapore, building on existing areas of cooperation while also driving new ones.
The Memorandum of Understanding delivers a framework to implement increased Singapore Armed Forces unilateral training in Australia. It sets the conditions for upgrading Defence training areas in Central and North Queensland to deliver enhanced training outcomes for both the Singapore Armed Forces and the Australian Defence Force. Under the Initiative, up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel will conduct unilateral training in Australia for up to 18 weeks per year When the Initiative reaches maturity, up to 14,000 Singapore Armed Forces personnel will conduct training in Central and North Queensland over 18 weeks a year for 25 years.
It is expected that the Singapore Armed Forces personnel numbers and military equipment will progressively increase as new infrastructure and facilities are built. As this presence increases, opportunities for local businesses to provide support and services will expand. Up to AUD 2 billion will be invested in Central and North Queensland over the life of the Initiative.