The establishment of a major military base in WA’s North West will be the number one priority of The Nationals WA should the party’s first Senator for Western Australia in 40 years be elected.
Senate candidate Nick Fardell today unveiled his vision for a 800-strong defence force presence on WA’s North West coast, a plan he says will turbocharge the region’s economy and protect our State’s most precious assets.
“A major military base, most likely to be located in Karratha or Port Hedland, would deliver border protection and greater maritime surveillance, provide security for our key ports and infrastructure as well as curb the Indian Ocean drug trafficking superhighway,” Mr Fardell said.
“At present, WA does not receive its fair share of military and defence funding compared to other states and our strategically crucial North West coast is alarmingly exposed.
“Despite covering a third of the nation’s land mass and coastline, WA is also short-changed by the number of military personnel based here – having the least of any mainland state.”
Mr Fardell this week raised his plan with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, as well as Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester.
“Both Michael and Darren are keen to work with me to make the dream of a military base on WA’s north coast a reality,” he said. “A vote for The Nationals is a vote for a stronger economy and a stronger defence presence for our North West.”
Mr Fardell echoed WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson’s concerns that the WA border was not being adequately patrolled against the import of meth into the State.
“The Indian Ocean has become a superhighway for illicit drugs, which are flowing into WA at a rapid rate because our hardworking border patrol units, through no fault of their own, are spread too thinly,” he said.
“The establishment of a military base in the Pilbara with 800-plus permanent defence personnel would protect and ensure the economic future of our nation’s key assets and address the explosion of meth importation into WA.”
Mr Fardell said a permanent military garrison would trigger diversification of the North West economy and deliver significant flow-on benefits.
“To complete the Pilbara Cities vision of The Nationals WA and Royalties for Regions, there needs to be economic diversification beyond mining,” he said.
“Having an ADF presence in the North West is important on a number of levels – the Pilbara is a strategic asset for the Australian economy. But defence towns, such as Townsville, show that a strong military presence widens the economic base and becomes an important driver in its own right.
“Increasing the population with a military presence would also help mining companies to cut the labour costs associated with fly-in, fly-out operations as military personnel shift to the regions with their families.”
Nats push defence, property rights (North West Telegraph, February 27)