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Rebuilding the Defence estate


Defence capability is intrinsically linked to the efficiency and effectiveness of its estate, which encompasses some 600 sites with around 30,000 assets.

Defence Base Support Officer Northern Territory Tindal, Mrs Sharon Durbidge (left), Base Support Manager RAAF Base Tindal, Mr Neal McDonald, and Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Engineer Base Support, Flying Officer Rebecca Sweeney check the plans and progress of the new development at RAAF Base Tindal
Defence Base Support Officer Northern Territory Tindal, Mrs Sharon Durbidge (left), Base Support Manager RAAF Base Tindal, Mr Neal McDonald, and Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Engineer Base Support, Flying Officer Rebecca Sweeney check the plans and progress of the new development at RAAF Base Tindal

However, many key bases are in need of significant remediation or expansion. New platforms such as the Canberra class amphibious ships and Hobart class air warfare destroyers will require different facilities. As operating platforms and assets change, all bases will need attention.

With the enhanced Defence presence in northern Australia, there is a growing need for supporting infrastructure in the region. That will involve upgrades to a number of bases as well as to facilities on Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The climate in the region is demanding on facilities and reduces the life of buildings by up to 50 per cent if they are not rigorously maintained.

‘Our weapons ranges and training areas are becoming degraded and in some cases are increasingly not fit for purpose’, said Deputy Secretary Estate and Infrastructure, Mr Steve Grzeskowiak.

The need to invest in the maintenance and renewal of the estate was recognised in the 2016 Defence White Paper, which underlined how important the estate is in enabling Defence to deliver on its responsibilities to the Government and the Australian community.

The Government’s 2016 Integrated Investment Program provides for redevelopment and refurbishment of existing facilities, as well as the introduction of new facilities across the country. Funding has been allocated to allow Defence to address estate maintenance issues on a more systematic basis, thereby protecting the estate and reducing the cost of future works.

‘A high priority of the program is to upgrade these training and testing facilities and ensure they support the introduction of new ADF weapon systems into the future’, said Mr Grzeskowiak.

Additional investment in airfields is also programmed to ensure Defence facilities can support new, modern aircraft. Upgrades will include runways, taxiways and hardstand refurbishments, along with airfield ground-lighting upgrades and compliance work. A high priority has been placed on monitoring and maintenance to preserve the effectiveness of airfields once they have been remediated.

The investment will not be limited to expanding or remediating existing facilities. It will also involve modifying the Defence estate footprint to accommodate new high-technology capabilities and larger platforms, and to ensure Defence is appropriately placed to meet future strategic requirements.