Military to face grilling on land
CITY leaders, graziers and Defence representatives will tomorrow attend a public Senate hearing into how a planned increase in military training may affect North Queensland.
Members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee will host the second public hearing on the inquiry into the impact of Defence training activities and facilities on rural and regional communities at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
A similar hearing was held in Rockhampton yesterday.
Mayor Jenny Hill is the first scheduled speaker at the hearing, which is also expected to hear from Charters Towers graziers, Department of Defence representatives and city leaders from the Port of Townsville, Townsville Chamber of Commerce and Townsville Enterprise.
Grazier John Brownson, from Forest Home, said landowners had heard little since Defence ruled out compulsorily acquiring properties as part of the Australia- Singapore Military Training Initiative.
The Bulletin revealed last month Australian and Singaporean military representa- tives had visited three separate tracts of land near Townsville – at Pentland, Greenvale and Ravenswood – under a plan to buy more properties to accommodate visiting soldiers.
“We really want to find out what Defence have in mind and what they are trying to do because we haven’t heard anything since they went and looked at some of that alternative land,” Mr Brownson said.
“We definitely don’t want them ( Defence) training on good quality country and I have heard that some of what they looked at was good.
“Some of the land they looked at is further away ( from the Townsville Field Training Area), but when they are having a war they are not just in the one place so they should be looking at diverse country.”
Herbert MP Cathy O’Toole, who is in Singapore on a delegation, said the AustraliaSingapore Military Training Initiative should bring new opportunities to the region and boost the economy.
She said tomorrow’s hearing would allow the voices of all who would be potentially impacted to be heard.
“We cannot allow this to be mishandled by government as it is so important to all parties involved,” she said.
The hearing is from 9.30am in the Hotel Grand Chancellor’s Pandora Room.