18 March 2017

News Story: Queensland training area for SAF set to be smaller

The existing Shoalwater Bay Training Area
Jonathan Pearlman

Aussie minister says changes won't affect plans to allow training of more SAF troops

Australia is planning to substantially reduce the size of proposed training areas for Singaporean troops in Queensland provided for under a multibillion-dollar deal reached between the two countries last year.

Australia is now including additional infrastructure in lieu of the area.The revised plan follows an outcry from farmers who have refused to sell hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland to make way for the expansion of the training areas at Shoalwater Bay base, near the city of Rockhampton, and a field training area at Townsville, a city further north.

Despite initially insisting the expansion was required to meet the military's training needs, a revised Australian masterplan says defence officials have now assessed that "a smaller expansion of Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville Field Training Area is achievable". 

The government has said it will continue to try to buy land from farmers - but The Sunday Times has been told few are expected to sell.

As much as 300,000ha of land - an area about four times the size of Singapore - was involved in the original acquisition plan.

According to the revised master- plan, published on the Australian Defence Department's website on Feb 23, the government believes it can achieve its training requirements with smaller bases. A final layout of the training areas will be decided later this year.

Read the full story at StraitsTimes