21 March 2011
Andrew asks the Prime Minister to rule out selling Anglesea Barracks in Hobart.
Mr WILKIE (2:53 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, Tasmania occupies a remarkable place in Australian military history. Anglesea Barracks in Hobart is the oldest Army barracks in Australia, and today Tasmanians comprise some eight per cent of ADF enlistments. Despite this, cutbacks have reduced Tasmania to an outpost of Victoria where even critical services like the Defence Community Organisation face the axe. Prime Minister, can you put the widespread concern in Hobart about Anglesea Barracks to rest by today unambiguously ruling out further defence cuts, including specifically the closure of the DCO and the sell-off of the barracks?
Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Denison for his question. I know that he is concerned about this issue and he has raised the matter directly with me. I say to the member for Denison and to the parliament the following. The government and defence are committed to maintaining the defence presence in Tasmania. It is the case, as the member for Denison is aware, that defence is undertaking a comprehensive review of defence’s basing requirements. No decisions have been made on the future of individual bases included in the review, and that includes the bases in Tasmania. It is expected that the review will be completed mid-year, following which it is planned that a government appointed independent commission will consider defence’s recommendations. It is intended that the commission will conduct public consultation before reporting back to the government. To the member for Denison I say I will not pre-empt the outcome of this process.
The member has asked about the Anglesea Barracks. I can say that there are currently a number of very important defence establishments in Tasmania. In the case of Anglesea Barracks, this is an historic site of immense importance to the Army, defence and the Commonwealth. Anglesea Barracks is the oldest continuously occupied defence establishment in Australia. Anglesea Barracks will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in December this year, and the Anglesea 200 project committee is planning for the celebrations that will recognise the milestone event that this forms in Australia and Tasmania’s military and defence history. I am advised defence has given no consideration to closing the base or to disposing of the base, and I do not expect that to occur in the future. I would expect the government of the day to not agree to any recommendation to take that course.
The member has also asked about the Defence Community Organisation. Defence is committed to providing Defence Community Organisation services in Tassie. I am advised that a Defence Community Organisation workforce review is underway to ensure the Defence Community Organisation offers the best possible service to defence families nationally. But I can assure the member there will be no overall reduction in services to ADF families in Tasmania.