Members of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee met in Wodonga today as part of a number of Inquiries into the impact of Defence’s training activities and facilities on rural and regional communities.
The Committee has already held hearings in Port Augusta, Rockhampton, Townsville, Darwin, Katherine, and Bendigo.
Committee Deputy Chair, Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said the Inquiry has a particular reference to the economic, social and environmental impacts of Defence training activities and facilities on communities.
“It is important to get feedback about the effects these activities have on communities and we achieve that by hearing from local organisations or businesses.”
Senator McKenzie said the Mayor of the City of Wodonga, Cr Anna Speedie, told the hearing of the significant contribution Defence makes to the local community.
“There are an estimated 2,750 local jobs associated with Defence, which contributes almost a billion dollars into the Wodonga community.”
Senator McKenzie said the Committee heard details of the value Defence activity added to the local economy in the Wodonga area, which included $788m in real estate, $730m in public administration, and $716m in manufacturing.
Senator McKenzie said Mayor Speedie also told the hearing that while Defence’s current contribution is large, there are further opportunities for more integration between Wodonga and the wider community and Defence which open up exciting prospects for local jobs and future expansion.
“In addition to the Latchford Barracks at Bonegilla and the Gaza Ridge Barracks at Bandiana in Wodonga,
Defence also owns a 370ha site in the Albury residential corridor at Wirlinga, and another 109ha site at Ettamogah.
“These locations provide for future opportunities to expand and grow operations and training activities, meaning the contribution Defence makes to the economy and employment in this area will become even greater,” Sen McKenzie said.
The Committee has handed down Interim Reports after each of its regional hearings, and will again do so after the hearing in Wodonga today.” she said.
21 November 2017