We welcome the announcement from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in Townsville today supporting the establishment of a continuous amphibious ship presence at the Port of Townsville. As a key initiative outlined in the Developing Northern Australia Agenda, establishing a stronger naval presence in Townsville would be a catalytic opportunity for the North.
Increasing the presence of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ships (through rotation) has been a key priority over the past 18 months for Townsville Enterprise and the Port of Townsville, as outlined in the 2018/19 Townsville North Queensland Federal Election Priorities, and was one of several regional projects discussed in Canberra recently with both Labor and the Coalition.
The project has the potential to create significant opportunities for local businesses including ongoing logistics support, supplies, and maintenance providing a sustained economic injection into the Townsville North Queensland economy.
The Port of Townsville can already accommodate the RAN Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships at Berth 10A, however under a planned $1.3B Port Expansion Project the creation of six new berths would accommodate increased LHDs and support boats, creating an estimated 600 jobs across construction and 400 ongoing jobs.
With the Channel Widening Project immediately being enacted, this opportunity would not only provide an economic stimulus for the region, but from a Defence perspective it opens the doorway to broader development and capacity at the Port to support these type of activities.
A purpose built berth dedicated to servicing naval ships is a long term agenda item for Townsville Enterprise and we look forward to continue working with both sides of government and the Port of Townsville to support the growth of our region.