21
Mar

Defence investigates land west of Pentland for Singapore deal

Defence investigates land west of Pentland for Singapore deal

THE Department of Defence is continuing its search for land worthy of the Singapore Defence Deal, with three properties west of Pentland investigated yesterday.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter confirmed, following discussions with Defence Minister Marise Payne, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and other Defence representatives, that 93,000 hectares of land he estimated to be worth just under $11 million was being inspected by Defence personnel.

Mr Katter said the land was roughly an hour and a half to two hours away from the current Townsville Field Training Area and was easily accessible via bitumen road.

“This land is right out of the way and won’t worry anyone; it won’t disrupt economic operations and it holds a very low number of cattle,” Mr Katter said.

“Paying $11 million here is the best option, rather than paying in excess of $200 million for land nearby Townsville Field Training Area that would have cost $650 million if resumptions had been forced.

“It will be helpful for Pentland and for Charters Towers as they can provide servicing for military vehicles too.”

Mr Katter said he believed the Defence Department had not been respectful of the Federal Government’s decision to take forced resumptions off the table, following what he called a “lack of engagement”.

“I believe there has not been a genuine effort by the army to carry out the spirit of the government’s decision that there will be no resumptions; they have treated it with contempt,” he said.

“Evidence that I am right is the fact that approaches have not been made to the stocking station agents in Charters Towers or in the Hughenden area.”

Mr Katter confirmed the land being investigated did not include Longton Station, south of Charters Towers, and that Ms Payne had declared no land would be purchased near Charters Towers without her personal approval first.

“Not that it gives me any great confidence, but if something does go wrong at least she can take the blame for it,” Mr Katter said.

“The Crown has no right to interfere in the ownership of land and that's the principal issue we should all be prepared to fight and die for.

“The Charters Towers economy cannot bear a mortal blow of this size.”

Credit: The Townsville Bulletin

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