Inquiry may boost defence spin-off for gulf cities

BENEFITS: Mayor John Rohde outlined the scope of future defence activities at Cultana, near Whyalla, saying the economic spin-off would benefit Port Pirie.

BENEFITS: Mayor John Rohde outlined the scope of future defence activities at Cultana, near Whyalla, saying the economic spin-off would benefit Port Pirie.

Mayor John Rohde applauded a Senate Inquiry into the impact of defence training operations on country towns.

Mr Rohde said the Cultana base near Whyalla would be used for future air-to-ground, ground-to-air and ship-to-shore training.

“All three Upper Spencer Gulf cities will have a role to play and see potential benefits from the defence presence,” he said

“We look forward to discussion with the Senate committee about opportunities for defence to better use our local suppliers and service providers to support their activities.

“Changes to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules will provide a good opportunity to revisit how our businesses might be able to become involved in defence contracts.

“As the defence presence in the region grows, we need to build a strong relationship with the defence department to ensure our communities can really maximise the benefit.”

The inquiry was introduced by South Australian Labor Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, Alex Gallacher.

This came after he met the Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla mayors in December.

The trio highlighted the benefits of last year’s Exercise Hamel for local businesses, but said that earlier engagement for future exercises would be valuable so businesses could plan ahead for the influx.

Port Augusta Mayor and chairman of Spencer Gulf Cities, Sam Johnson, said the expansion of Cultana would see the region become home to one of the Australian Defence Force’s biggest training areas.

“The site provides ideal terrain and climate for year-round armoured, mechanised and cavalry forces training and is capable of supporting more major joint combined exercises such as Hamel,” he said.