Assistant Minister talks up Amberley base future
THE future expansion of the Amberley RAAF base was the main topic of conversation as Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert dropped in to Ipswich this week.
Mr Robert was the keynote speaker at Monday's Defence Industries lunch, hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).
About 50 business, government, council and defence representatives heard about Ipswich's 75-year relationship with the Defence community - via a RAAF base that now employs more than 5000 people but is ideally positioned for even further growth.
Mr Robert said Ipswich had a reputation for embracing defence families and the important job they do, which made it an ideal city to look to for the future.
"Our people love coming here," Mr Robert said.
"We have spent $3.5 billion for defence in Queensland and Amberley will continue to grow.
"There is always the opportunity there to expand its footprint."
If talk of the possible closure of Richmond Air Base in NSW comes to fruition, it could result in the further expansion of Amberley, which is set to take on "superbase" status.
The addition of more KC-30 aircraft to the Amberley fleet is on the cards, while Mr Robert said the new C-27 J Battlefield Lift transport aircraft that will replace the Caribou will also be coming to Amberley.
The 9th Force Support Battalion - a logistics unit of the Army - could also be joined by further Army units at Amberley in the near future.
Mr Robert said the Amberley base's contribution to the war effort in Iraq through the deployment of Super Hornets and a KC-30 aircraft was something residents "should be proud of."
Mayor Paul Pisasale, who also addressed the luncheon, said there was still plenty of real estate to physically expand the base.
"The smartest thing we did was to leave a five-kilometre buffer zone around the outside of the base," Cr Pisasale said.