Land deal talk dam­ag­ing, says MP Sin­ga­pore ‘ still keen’

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

HER­BERT MP Cathy O’Toole has la­belled spec­u­la­tion on whether Townsville will lose its share of the $ 2.25 bil­lion Sin­ga­pore deal due to on­go­ing land ac­qui­si­tion dis­cus­sions as very “dam­ag­ing”.

Sen­a­tor Ian Macdon­ald raised con­cerns last month that a long si­lence sur­round­ing the search for land un­der the Aus­tralian- Sin­ga­pore Mil­i­tary Train­ing Ini­tia­tive could mean the Townsville area was in dan­ger of be­ing ditched in favour of Shoal­wa­ter Bay.

Ms O’Toole re­cently re­turned from a joint fed­eral del­e­ga­tion to Sin­ga­pore, In­done­sia and Myan­mar and the in­ter­est in Townsville as part of and in ad­di­tion to the Aus­tralian- Sin­ga­pore Mil­i­tary Train­ing Ini­tia­tive ( ASMTI) was look­ing pos­i­tive.

“The op­por­tu­ni­ties are very good for Townsville, par­tic­u­larly once the Sin­ga­pore deal is fi­nalised and we have the sol­diers com­ing in, it will just open the gate­way,” she said.

“Sin­ga­pore has a lot of in­ter­est in our vo­ca­tion, ed­u­ca­tional and train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and the Cham­ber of Com­merce over there is very help­ful and in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing Aus­tralian com­pa­nies.”

Ms O’Toole said the city should only be talked up at this point be­cause there was “no ad­van­tage in putting out neg­a­tive mes­sages”, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was al­ready forced to back­flip on planned land ac­qui­si­tion.

“Sen­a­tor Macdon­ald needs to look to his own gov­ern­ment for the way this deal was han­dled in the first place,” she said.

“My un­der­stand­ing is due process is un­der way and there are still on­go­ing dis­cus­sions, so it is too pre­ma­ture to be jump­ing to con­clu­sions be­cause it can be very dam­ag­ing.

“We just need to be pa­tient to let the process flow.”

Mean­while, the Bul­letin has been told De­fence has started rou­tine road­works main­te­nance within the Townsville Field Train­ing Area af­ter heavy ve­hi­cles were seen trav­el­ling through the Char­ters Tow­ers and Balfes Creek area.

A Depart­ment of De­fence spokes­woman con­firmed the work was not be­ing car­ried out un­der the ASMTI.

She also con­firmed De­fence had still not been able to pur­chase any land in the vicin­ity of Townsville.

“De­fence is con­tin­u­ing con­sul­ta­tions with willing sell­ers around the Townsville Field Train­ing Area and Shoal­wa­ter Bay Train­ing Area,” the spokes­woman said.

“De­fence is also con­sult­ing with willing sell­ers and assess­ing the fea­si­bil­ity of al­ter­na­tive sites in the vicin­ity of Townsville, in­clud­ing Pent­land, Green­vale and Ravenswood.

“Ac­tiv­i­ties to de­ter­mine the suit­abil­ity of the land for mil­i­tary train­ing pur­poses con­tinue, which may in­clude site vis­its from time to time.”

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