Never has my BULLSHIT radar been so strained

Busy, busy busy the Australian Defence Force has been over recent weeks.

Under attack from frustrated farmers, they had to rethink their review into expansions of both the Shoalwater Bay and Townsville military training areas.

Less than five weeks ago, Defence insisted that the master plan to expand the training areas, which they had already been working on for more than a year, would take another six months at least.

Laugh (in public) did the minister, under attack from all sides.

She wanted the report put behind her ASAP.

Hurry and scurry, huff and puff did Defence

It was (rightly) a significant and complex task, given the costs and international diplomacy involved.

True to form, however, when there’s votes on the line, the department, at Her Minister’s behest, sharpened the pencils, clicked and clacked on the abacus, burned the midnight oil and, despite starting over with a new set of rules (compulsory acquisition was a no go), they smashed out a carefully considered and totally workable master plan in just four weeks.

And guess what – it’s all OK folks – no compulsory acquisitions needed after all – we can make do with a few friendly purchases from farmers who were willing to sell voluntarily anyway.

We have no idea what all the fuss was about – we thank all those lovely, friendly, harmless landholders with whom we ‘consulted’.


Now, while I actually have no objection to the expansion of either training area for the purposes stated, I do wholeheartedly object to the spin-doctoring BE that would have us believe the master plan came up with the best solution for Defence and Singapore four weeks after having the rug pulled out on an 18-month planning process.

Here’s the official heap of bovine excrement….


Minister for Defence

Master planning finalised for enhanced training area

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, today announced that Defence has finalised its master planning activity for upgrades to the Shoalwater Bay and Townsville Field Training Areas.

Following the initial round of consultation with local landowners, the master planning has confirmed that Defence can meet the future training needs of the ADF and the increased training with the Singapore Armed Forces through the purchase of land from willing sellers. As announced on 7 February, no land owner will be forced to sell their property.

Minister Payne acknowledged the input of local landholders to the consultation process and thanked them for their participation.

“The master planning activity has produced a viable option that strikes the balance between Defence’s important capability needs and the range of national considerations,” she said.

“The approach outlined in the master plan will deliver significant improvements for the Australian Defence Force, enable us to fulfil our agreement with Singapore, and drive much-needed investment in central and northQueensland,” Minister Payne said.

“Importantly, as a result of the master planning process Defence has significantly reduced the scope of the training area expansion that is needed to meet the Australian Defence Force’s training requirements, and land will only be purchased from willing sellers.

“The enhancement involves considerable initial infrastructure works at Townsville Field Training Area and Shoalwater Bay Training Area. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore, priority will be given to local businesses in the Townsville and Rockhampton regions to deliver this investment.

“Defence will now consult with relevant landowners and leaseholders around Shoalwater Bay and Townsville thathave expressed an interest to Defence during the planning process.”

Defence cannot identify the location of individual sellers due to privacy requirements and the commercial-in-confidence nature of the discussions. Defence restates that no landowner will be forced to sell their land.

The master planning results along with the ongoing KPMG socio-economic study will form the basis of the department’s initial business case to Government for final approval of expansion.

Chief of Army, LTGEN Angus Campbell said the expansion and enhancement of these two training areas was vital for the future capability of the Australian Defence Force.

“The Australian Defence Force is engaged in a major modernisation program that will see significant new capabilities and platforms coming online over the next decade,” LTGEN Campbell said.

“The weapons systems in which the Government has invested through the 2016 Defence White Paper will have greater reach than ever before, requiring larger training areas to maintain vital safety standards, and observe our environmental requirements.

“This training will help ensure the Australian Defence Force remains potent, mobile and effective.”

For more information about the enhanced training areas is available at:





Military Training Agreement – Master Planning summary


The process:

The master planning activity involved military planning combined with engineering and geographical analysis.

As a result of the master planning the amount of land to be purchased from willing sellers has been significantly reduced.
The military planners considered the Australian Defence Force’s current and future requirements, including the impacts of bringing heavier vehicles and longer-range weapons into service.
The training requirements of the Singapore Armed Forces under the Military Training Agreement were also assessed.

Engineers and military experts in range usage also considered what changes could be made within the existing training areas to maximise the space available while still maintaining Defence’s commitments to environmental legislation.
The master planning process identified the training needs and options on how Defence could best achieve them, with the least amount of additional land.


The outcomes:

The master planning confirmed that existing training areas are currently operating at capacity. To accommodate both Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training into the future there is a requirement to expand Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville Field Training Area.  This would allow for the ADF and SAF to train concurrently without restrictions.

Based on initial feedback from potential willing sellers, Defence assesses that a smaller expansion of Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Townsville Field Training Area is achievable.  As a result of the master planning process, Defence has identified a number of measures to achieve the training outcomes for the Australian Defence Force and Singapore Armed Forces within this smaller expansion. These measures seek to maximise the use of the existing training areas through additional engineering works, revised scheduling, and simulated training activities to further limit the need for expansion.

As a further risk mitigation measure and based on suggestions which were made during the initial round of consultations with the community, Defence will also continue to explore the viability of alternative sites in the vicinity of Townsville, involving willing sellers, to meet the long term training requirements of the Australian Defence Force.

As a result of the master planning the amount of land to be purchased from willing sellers has been significantly reduced. 


Next steps:

Defence will now engage in consultations with landowners and leaseholders around Shoalwater Bay and Townsville who have expressed an interest in selling to Defence during the planning process and those who approach defence in the future.

The expansion areas are all contained within the previously proposed area outlined in the initial planning process.

Defence cannot identify the location of individual sellers due to privacy requirements and the commercial-in-confidence nature of the discussions.

It is important to emphasise that land will only be purchased from willing sellers, the Australian Government will own the land and the Australian Defence Force will have priority use.

Defence representatives will be in the Townsville and Rockhampton regions the week beginning Monday 27 February to answer any questions and talk with the community.

Submissions for the KPMG socio-economic study close on 6 March and Defence encourages community members to have their say. Details can be found at:

The results of master planning and the KPMG study will form part of Defence’s initial business case for final Government consideration and approval of the expansion plans.




sir_jeffrey_blog_logoAnother comment from resident crankyman Sir Jeffrey Armiger – a retired Public Servant with a pet hate for BE – bovine excrement.

Sir Jeffrey Armiger is dedicated to the eradication of BE. Follow Sir Jeffrey on Facebook here.





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Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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