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