Queensland Defence Industry: quietly achieving a great deal

In many respects Queensland is the quiet achiever of Australia’s defence industry sector. Today it is the second largest Australian state for defence employment, home to a quarter of the ADF’s military personnel, and has a 26 per cent share of national defence industry activity. Hoping to extend this, the Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman recently announced the establishment of the Defence Industries Queensland unit within the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning and the appointment of a Defence Industries Envoy to spearhead State defence industry engagement efforts.

Queensland is noteworthy in having a particularly broadly based approach to defence industry and being involved in research and development, design, manufacture and sustainment.

Queensland is one of the few Australian States from where the ADF can generate capability, mount operations and, if necessary, project force. The state hosts military bases that provide the full capabilities required to raise, train and sustain a deployable joint force. Most bases involve commercial organisations providing a range of base services including administration, security, logistics, transport and equipment maintenance. There is also extensive industry involvement through base redevelopment with Queensland in the last year attracting the largest share of the ADF Major Capital Facilities Program funding, some $440 million.

Queensland is unique in having major ADF bases spread across the State rather than centralised in a few locations. Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane is home to the 7th Brigade, one of the Army’s three new ‘Plan Beersheba’ multi-role combat brigades that include armour, artillery, communication, engineer, infantry and logistic elements. Under the Enhanced Land Force Stage 2 project some $820 million is being spent to significantly upgrade the Barracks’ training and accommodation facilities and general base infrastructure. This project is also funding another $75 million for improvements to the Wide Bay Training Area used by 7 Brigade for combat team training including new training facilities, base infrastructure and an explosive ordnance facility.

Lavarack Barracks in Townsville is home to another multi-role combat brigade, the 3rd Brigade. New training facilities, additional training ranges, and additional explosive ordnance storage are being constructed costing some $70 million. Three Brigade’s Second Royal Australian Regiment will form the core of Army’s contribution to the future ADF amphibious force. At the port of Townsville the Queensland Government is contributing funding to the upgrade of Berth 10 to allow servicing of the new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock amphibious warfare ships.