Singapore Army soldiers at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area. INSET: Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls have slammed the Federal Government for their approach to land acquisitions under the proposed expansion.
Singapore Army soldiers at the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area. INSET: Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls have slammed the Federal Government for their approach to land acquisitions under the proposed expansion. Russell Prothero

SHOALWATER: Palaszczuk to take expansion gripes to PM

QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed to take grazier's gripes with Shoalwater Bay land acquisitions direct to the Prime Minister.

Ms Palaszczuk yesterday sledged the Federal Government's approach to expanding the footprint of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area as she arrived in Rockhampton to convene cabinet.

During her week-long stay, the Premier confirmed she would meet with graziers and landowners impacted by the Australian Defence Force's move, which has already seen two properties sold.

"This week is very important for me to listen to the views of the graziers,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Now Bill Byrne has made it very clear to me that the graziers are unhappy with the Federal Government's decision to expand the footprint of Shoalwater Bay.

"This was done without consultation with the local community, we are angry about it, I want to hear from them and we will take it to Malcolm Turnbull if we don't see a resolution of it in the very near future.”

Defence Minister, Marise Payne first revealed plans for the $1 billion Shoalwater expansion in June 2016 during a visit to Rockhampton in the lead up to the Federal Election.

It wasn't until her next visit to the region on November 3 that news of land acquisitions came to the fore.

Under the ADF's proposal, 162,000ha of land would be acquired to expand the near-450,000ha facility.

Late last week, State Member for Rockhampton and Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne accused Senator Payne of misleading parliament over plans to resume farmland under the lucrative military deal with Singapore.

"There is no doubt in my mind that vital information was withheld to gain electoral advantage, and I am raising the possibility that Minister Payne... misled the senate estimates hearing,” Mr Byrne said last week.

Senator Payne said the department indicated during the estimates hearing that the majority of the $2.2 billion (for Shoalwater and the Townsville military training areas) would be spent upgrading infrastructure.

"It also indicated that some investment will be allocated to ensuring there is adequate capacity at those training areas. This remains the case,” she said.

She said the estimates hearing was also told further details needed to be negotiated prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Queensland opposition leader, Tim Nicholls also weighed in yesterday and called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene.

Mr Nicholls said the federal issue would have massive implications for the agriculture sector and communities, and described the ADF's approach as "confusing, muddled and in need of a rethink”.

Yesterday, Mr Byrne stood in solidarity with Ms Palaszczuk, who assured her government would do "everything we possibly can” to assist those impacted by the land acquisitions.

"I was talking to some people last night (Sunday), and they said to me there have been generations of families that have lived on those properties,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

"And what the Federal government has done is basically turn their back on these families.

"This has been their livelihood, this is where they have raised their children, and now... without really telling the community, they are going to acquire these properties for an expansion that we believe is not needed, the existing footprint of the Shoalwater Bay training camp is enough.”


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