DEFENCE Minister Linda Reynolds has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s intention to establish a multimillion-dollar US-funded, commercially-operated strategic military fuel reserve in Darwin.
Senator Reynolds, who spent yesterday observing live fire operations military operations between Australian and US Marine Rotational Forces at Mt Bundey station near Darwin, said the plan was to develop the fuel reserve in the “near future.”
She said the plan for the fuel reserve comes at a time when the strategic importance of the Northern Territory for Australia’s northern defence had never been more vital.
“When it comes to Australia’s northern defences, the Northern Territory is of profound strategic importance,” Senator Reynolds said. “The strategic reserve will significantly increase shared military fuel redundancy in Northern Australia and enhance the ability of the ADF and US forces to participate in a range of activities.
“It will improve our ability to undertake activities in the region – such as multilateral exercises with regional partners or joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
“To assist with the implementation of the Force Posture Initiatives, the Australian and US Governments will collectively invest around $2 billion dollars on capital infrastructure works and supporting arrangements.”
Ms Reynolds said the strategic importance of Australia’s north would see new investments in critical Defence operational bases; in training facilities; and in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Included in the investment is $5 million towards the development of a Maritime Security Training Centre in Darwin to facilitate training of Royal Australian Navy members in the conduct of Maritime Security operations.
“This investment will include upgrades and new facilities at RAAF Base Darwin, Robertson Barracks, Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, RAAF Tindal, as well as training areas and ranges throughout the Territory,” she said.
Further emphasising the strategic importance of Darwin to Australia’s defence activities Minister Reynolds said in the years ahead, Australia can expect an array of new cooperative maritime activities.
“And Darwin will play an increasingly prominent role due to its geographical location and unique Defence infrastructure,” she said.
“Australia is eager to build on existing opportunities to engage our regional partners in US Force Posture Initiatives in Darwin, like Exercise Crocodile Response.
“Australia’s footprint in the north is significant, and this will support a more active Defence posture in the decades to come.”
Senator Reynolds will today address Darwin businesses about Defence infrastructure plans.