Fight to save Toowoomba army bases back on

THE fight to save an under-fire Toowoomba region army base may be back on as the Department of Defence considers selling bases across Australia.

The Federal Government has released its principles review One Defence, Case for Change in which it proposes to cut 1000 defence jobs and sell 17 bases worth an estimated $1.4 billion.

No specific bases have been identified in the latest review, with their locations concealed in a classified 2012 report.

However, the review has created doubt about the future of the Borneo Barracks at Cabarlah, which only three years ago was flagged for closure.

In 2012, the Australia Defence Force Posture Review raised the prospect of relocating the Cabarlah wing of the School of Signals to either Melbourne or a "super base" in South Australia.

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Highfields community leader Mac Stirling, a staunch advocate for the Cabarlah base, said considering the recent uncertainty around the future of the Borneo Barracks, any talk of closing army bases concerned him.

"Defence is an integral part of the Toowoomba region's character and community," he said.

"If they shut down Cabarlah they'll be taking away a core industry sector.

"If they want to rip it out, they're going to have to put up a bloody good argument for us to be convinced."

The review has also caused rumblings in Oakey.

The future of Oakey's Swartz Barracks was also placed in doubt in early 2012 after plans were announced to relocate basic aviation training to a joint helicopter school at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, whose electorate includes the Oakey base, said she would be watching the fallout from the review closely.

"I'll be waiting with interest to see what happens," she said.

Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane said while a final decision was a long way off, he remained committed to lobbying for the region's army bases.

"The Cabarlah and Oakey bases play a significant role both locally and nationally," he said.

"Locally they're a boost to our economy and employment.

"Nationally they both contribute to the defence of our country and training of personnel.

"The government has not made any final decisions regarding defence land and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

"What's more, no final decision will be made until the completion of both the Force Structure Review and the Defence White Paper.

"I will continue to speak with my ministerial colleagues in Canberra about the national significance of both defence bases in our region."

TROUBLED PAST

Borneo Barracks, Cabarlah

  • 2006: The Defence Force announces the possible relocation of Borneo Barracks to Adelaide
  • September 2009: The Australian Defence Association identifies Borneo Barracks as the site of a possible super base
  • February 2010: Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said it was in the national interest that Borneo Barracks be relocated to Adelaide. He said the costs of keeping the base could "no longer be justified".
  • February 2012: A new report refers to the possibility of "rationalising" or closing some defence bases, including the one at Cabarlah

Swartz Barracks, Oakey

  • November 2007: The Department of Defence announces plans to relocate basic helicopter training from Oakey to its joint helicopter school at Nowra
  • October 2014: The Federal Government announces some helicopter training to be relocated from the Oakey Army Aviation Centre to Nowra. MP Ian Macfarlane labelled the move as "simply a result of necessity".


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