Illawarra progresses bid to bring navy base to Port Kembla

The push to promote Port Kembla as a future base for the Australian Navy gathered momentum as the Property Council and a group of regional stakeholders launched a submission to the Federal Government to promote the relocation of the Navy from Garden Island to Port Kembla.

The Property Council of Australia and the Illawarra Consortia, led by the RDA Illawarra and including the University of Wollongong, BlueScope Steel, Wollongong City Council and Illawarra Business Chamber have officially launched the joint submission highlighting the harbour’s benefits.

 

The submission follows a meeting held in April with Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and more than 20 of the region’s key figures to formulate a long-term strategy to push for Port Kembla as a possible relocation site for Garden Island.

Part of that strategy included writing the report released at the end of July – The Jewel of the East Coast. The report lists the advantages of Port Kembla as a safe, deep-water port located in an industrial area.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said it was ‘‘going to be a long road’’ to get the navy to Port Kembla.

‘‘White papers look into the future operational needs of the Royal Australian Navy and this is the [first] step,’’ she said.

‘‘Now we are hopeful, as part of the first steps, that the white paper will include a reference to the need for Garden Island to relocate. That is the very important starting point.

‘‘Clearly we ask for Port Kembla to be given a fair hearing. We believe it’s the right option, we believe that it is really the best option on the east coast.’’

Throsby MP Stephen Jones was part of a bipartisan approach to the issue and he was very much in favour of a move.

‘‘We think we’ve got the best port on the east coast of Australia,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s an under-utilised asset and there are plans to expand it, and those plans can incorporate moving of the Sydney naval base to the Illawarra.

‘‘It’s not just the defence base coming here, it’s the families that move into the region. It’s the jobs that are associated with it. They purchase equipment and services and supplies locally – it makes a huge difference to the economy of the region.’’

The Illawarra Consortia has recommended that:

  1. The Port Kembla relocation proposal be given a fair hearing as a White Paper option, and is deemed a Royal Australian Navy relocation option in the Defence White Paper and other strategic Defence documents such as the 20-year plan;
  2. The Commonwealth Government evaluates the case for relocating all or part of current Royal Australian Navy operations at Garden Island to the Port of Port Kembla and undertakes a feasibility and scoping study in consultation with Commonwealth and NSW State departments; and
  3. That relevant officials, including the Defence White Paper team, tour facilities at Port Kembla and be briefed on the site’s capabilities.

To read the full submission click here.