IPSWICH has strengthened its reputation as a military hub after ground was broken this week at the future site of the Australian Defence Force’s new $370 million facility at Bundamba.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton travelled to Citiswitch Business Park on Monday, marking the project’s first phase alongside Mayor Teresa Harding and Senator Paul Scarr.
It comes after plans to develop two large warehouses for lifesaving deployable military hospitals and equipment were revealed in February.
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Plans for the site at Bognuda St and Masterpanel Lane also include 50 parking spaces and 76 hardstand car parks.
Saab secured the multimillion-dollar contract to operate the site in partnership with the Department of Defence in September last year.
It will be the first major project to be undertaken by Saab in Queensland.
Mr Dutton said the Ipswich community stood to benefit greatly from the Commonwealth’s $370 million investment.
“As we know if you grow industry locally it means there’s jobs for kids coming out of school, it means that when industries close down they can transition into new industries like defence,” he said.
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About 150 jobs will be created during the construction phase and between 15-50 positions will be required once the site is operational.
“It means less people are on the roads, they’re not sitting on the western freeway travelling into the city for work each day, they’re travelling within their own community and that obviously delivers a big benefit to the local community,” Mr Dutton said.
Saab will deliver more than 500 deployable health modules such as pathology, intensive care, and primary dental care units over the first five years of the contract.
Mr Dutton said this allowed for flexible responses when responding to various situations and medical needs out in the field.
“Our defence personnel have been deployed around the country over the course of the past 18 months, to bushfires and floods,” Mr Dutton said.
“Domestically there’s opportunity for our people to go into a tertiary hospital if they get sick, but if they get sick while deployed to Fiji or Papua New Guinea, we can deploy one of these modules to provide support to those people.”
He said lifesaving equipment from the Bundamba facility would also likely be shipped to the Middle East if necessary.
The facility is expected to operate 24 hours a day seven days a week once construction is complete in mid-2022.
“It really bolsters the capability of our defence force,” Mr Dutton said.
“It reflects the fact that we live in an uncertain time, but it also reflects that we want to do everything we can to take care of the men and women of the ADF.
“We can send very quickly these field hospitals to whatever theatre they’re in and they can receive the medical services and attention that they deserve.”
Senator Paul Scarr said the site’s proximity to RAAF Amberley made it the “perfect choice.”
“Ipswich is becoming more and more of a defence centre of excellence and this is just another piece of the puzzle,” Senator Scarr said.
“This means a lot; this is an area that has undergone great transformation and growth over the last 10 years or so.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Teresa Harding said she welcomed any investment from the Federal Government.
“A $370 million investment in this joint health capability is tremendous for us,” she said.
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