Australian Army officer Major Brent Hughes (left) from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, delivers battle orders to unit personnel during Exercise Diamond Strike at Shoalwater Bay.
Australian Army officer Major Brent Hughes (left) from the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, delivers battle orders to unit personnel during Exercise Diamond Strike at Shoalwater Bay. Australian Defence Force

Defence issued new orders over Shoalwater land acquisition

UPDATE: COMPULSORY land acquisition has not been ruled out despite the Defence Minister issuing new orders for the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion.

The Minister made a three part announcement this afternoon after meeting with landholders, Marlborough business owners, AgForce and National Farmers Federation representatives, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig, Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan at Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's office.

"I don't for a moment underestimate or understate the level of concern and the anxiety that's caused in the community when discussions around land and property issues come as part of an arrangement like this," Defence Minister Marise Payne said of the comprehensive strategic partnership which the military arrangement sits under.

"So it was a great opportunity for me and one which I value very much to have some very serious discussions and to hear the feedback of some of the leading representatives of the grazing community, farming community and the small business community in relevant parts around the Shoalwater Bay Training Area here this afternoon."

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"Out of that process there are three things which I would like to place on the record," Ms Payne said.

"The first is that it is my strong view, and I have directed Defence to ensure that this is the case, that agricultural land should be used for agricultural purposes.

"I understand the concerns that have been raised with me and I hope that that has gone some way to addressing their views around the attitude of the government. That is the direction that I have provided to Defence.

"Agricultural land should be used for agricultural purposes."

 

A map showing the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion zone
A map showing the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion zone

Ms Payne said she had also instructed that any land which is required to be acquired should be done so in a timely manner.

The Master Plan was not expected to be completed and released until the second half of 2017, however, Ms Payne said and she has directed Defence to ensure that the outcomes of that process are available within four weeks.

"So a very clear time frame that will give graziers, give farmers in the community, a scale if you like, on which to work in terms of when that information will come back to them," she said.

"It will be a comprehensive process but we can, with further resources, return that within four weeks and that is what we will do."

She said the third point I'd like to make is that process should include minimal acquisition of agricultural land.

"There is a lot of work to be done in the next four weeks but that is the starting point that I have instructed Defence to observe: that the Master Planning process should include minimal acquisition of agricultural land," Ms Payne said.

We will see at the conclusion of that process those outcomes and obviously they will be communicated here locally.

2pm: THE Department of Defence have been given new orders in relation to land acquisition for the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

Defence Minister Marise Payne advised of the new orders issued at a press conference this afternoon outside Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's office.

Ms Payne said she has told the department to review the land acquisitions, to minimalise the amount of agricultural land that will be acquired, and to bring back new land acquisition plans in four weeks.

More to come.


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