Founded on its connection to Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA), Rockhampton plays an important role in defence of the nation.
At more than 4,000km2, the SWBTA is the Australian Defence Forces' (ADF) largest permanent training area. The area’s scale and coastal location allow joint and combined services (Army, Navy & Airforce) exercises.
The area is used independently by the ADF and Singaporean Armed Forces (SAF) and for joint ADF/US Armed Forces and ADF/SAF exercises. The SWBTA is administered from Rockhampton, with the city acting as a logistics and forward deployment base for SWBTA based exercises. The Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership provides a foundation for national cooperation within the areas of trade and economics, defence and intelligence sharing, education and innovation and science.
The focus for defence cooperation is the joint development of training areas and facilities in SWBTA and Townsville. This $2.2 billion investment will provide Singapore with enhanced military training capability and access. It also provides a major economic boost from construction and increased training activity proposed for SWBTA. Council will work to maximise these benefits. Beyond the benefits of periodic exercises, SWBTA provides the opportunity to establish a permanent military presence within the region. While attempts have been made to woo 1st Armoured Regiment, these have been resisted on capability grounds in that it would separate operationally integrated forces.
This would diminish unit interoperability at Brigade and Divisional levels. The purpose of the ADF is to provide security from attack or the threat of attack. It follows that investment must be driven by producing and enhancing essential military capabilities. It is critical that Rockhampton and its regional partners develop the case for a permanent defence presence on the confluence between Australia’s strategic defence objectives, fiscal and logistic efficacy and regional development benefits.
Based on these criteria, the relocation of Army Corp training schools from constrained southern locations distant to the units they serve provides the best opportunity to develop Rockhampton region’s role in the defence of the nation. Based on the attributes of the SWBTA, the greatest enhancement in capability and financial and logistic efficacy could be derived from the relocation and colocation of any or all of the following:
- School of Armour (Puckapunyal)
- School of Artillery (Puckapunyal)
- School of Transport (Puckapunyal)
- School of Infantry (Singleton).
Council is taking both an immediate and strategic approach in pursuit of defence opportunities. In the short term, Council will appoint an industry champion and work with the ADF and SAF to:
1. Reinforce and build Rockhampton’s role and capacity as a logistics and forward deployment base for SWBTA
2. Work with the ADF, State and Commonwealth Government agencies and business to maximise the supply chain benefits from the impending upgrade to SWBTA’s infrastructure and facilities
3. Identify on-going supply chain gaps and opportunities and work with defence prime contractors and local business to meet these needs
4. Develop a military aviation precinct at the Rockhampton Airport
5. Transition and link high level METS businesses in the region to provide services to the defence industry.
Strategically, Council will investigate a regional partnership with the Queensland Government to develop the business case for the establishment of Military Schools within the Rockhampton region.