The Albanese Government and the Northern Territory Government today signed an agreement to establish the Defence Accommodation Precinct Darwin at Howard Springs – site of the NT’s COVID-19 quarantine facility.
Originally built to house 3000 workers employed on a gas project, the site reopened to overseas returning travellers in October 2020 as a Centre for National Resilience, or COVID-19 compulsory quarantine centre.
Today’s agreement will enable the Department of Defence to use the Howard Springs facility as an accommodation precinct, with the first cohort of more than 1300 military personnel from Australia and partner nations scheduled to occupy the facility later this month to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre.
Defence Accommodation Precinct Darwin at Howard Springs will relieve pressure on limited on-base Defence accommodation in Darwin and ensure Defence requirements do not place excessive demand on local hotel accommodation during major exercises scheduled during the peak season.
A five-year lease arrangement between the Commonwealth and Northern Territory is estimated to cost approximately $50 million per year, which covers all expenses in operating and maintaining the facility, including lease payments, catering, hospitality and cleaning services, utilities, transport, security and waste disposal.
Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite said the agreement was another step in improving the Australian Defence Force’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases, one of six priority areas for immediate action identified in the Defence Strategic Review.
“Defence Accommodation Precinct Darwin will provide a high standard of temporary accommodation for our personnel conducting operations and exercises from Darwin,” Mr Thistlethwaite said.
NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the Northern Territory had a long and proud history of hosting multi-national military exercises and, in doing so, provided unique and important training opportunities for the Australian Defence Force and allied partners.
“Repurposing the former Centre for National Resilience as a Defence accommodation precinct will allow Defence to more readily host visiting forces and services in the Territory, while also supporting the availability of short-term, business and tourism accommodation options for use in the greater Darwin area, particularly during the peak season.”