THE Australian Defence Force could be close to closing a deal that will see the Singapore army set up its own training base at Greenvale.
Four weeks ago it was looking as though two landholders who were refusing to sell could cause the ADF to walk away from the Greenvale option and focus instead on Pentland and Ravenswood.
The initiative to identify and buy land for military training purposes is the linchpin of the $ 2.2 billion Australia- Singapore Military Training Initiative.
Mayor of Charters Towers Regional Council Liz Schmidt said yesterday that the two landholders who had been holding out were now back at the negotiating table.
“It is now getting to the pointy end,” she said.
“The ADF wants the land deal in place by February so that construction on the base can start in 2019.”
Cr Schmidt said a land acquisition outcome was now looking better for Greenvale.
The Townsville Bulletin understands there are eight stations in the greater Greenvale area that the army was looking at buying.
Sources had indicated that six owners had agreed to sell and that a final decision lay with the two station owners who were hesitant about making a deal.
“The people there have come to the party, so now we will see what will happen with Greenvale,” Cr Schmidt said. “It is starting to look positive. “Landholders at Ravenswood are still very much in the mix as well.”
Cr Schmidt said that if the Greenvale option was abandoned by the ADF, it would turn its attention to Ravenswood and Pentland.
Cr Schmidt said it would be incorrect for any landholder to think there was only one option.
“The army is still in negotiations with Pentland and Ravenswood. The negotiations are ongoing. It will happen. It is just a matter of where,” Cr Schmidt said.
“There is not a never- ending pot of money.
“There is a budget for land and for construction.”
Cr Schmidt said that no matter where it was established — Greenvale, Pentland or Ravenswood — Charters Towers would benefit economically.
“All of the favoured locations are in the council area.
“The ADF policy is that all goods and services will be sourced from Charters Towers.
“If something can’t be sourced from here, then they will go else- where to buy it.
“This is what has happened at Shoalwater Bay where smaller contractors in the Livingstone Shire are getting the work.”
Cr Schmidt said the ADF had made offers to prospective landholders in June.
The Townsville Bulletin has been told landholders in the Greenvale area have been given the opportunity to consider the offers and that the ADF would continue to negotiate with willing sellers over the coming weeks.
An ADF briefing paper obtained by the Townsville Bulletin states that “sites near Ravenswood and Pentland will be considered should Greenvale prove not feasible”.
Our June 20 front page.