March 30, 2012
Federal Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has toured the East Sale RAAF Base ahead of a $185 million redevelopment.
Mr Abbott inspected facilities at the base with Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester who has been a vocal supporter of the redevelopment which was recently approved by the Federal Government.
The redevelopment includes runway upgrades, air traffic control towers and staff amenities.
“It was great to have an opportunity to show Tony around the base and introduce him to local RAAF personnel,” Mr Chester said.
“The base has a long history in the Gippsland region and has a very strong relationship with the local community.
“It provides a vital role as both a defence facility and a major employer, underpinning our local economy.
“Tony was very interested in the training procedures that are underway at East Sale which help produce high quality RAAF personnel to work in the Australian Defence Force.”
During the tour, Mr Abbott and Mr Chester were shown flight control training simulators at the Air Traffic Control School and also got the opportunity to take a seat in the Pilatus PC-9/A aircraft made famous by the RAAF Roulettes.
Mr Chester said the redevelopment would cement the East Sale base’s position as a key strategic asset for the Australian Defence Force.
He said the project was being designed so small to medium sized businesses could tender for sections of the work.
Theiss Australia has been appointed as the managing contractor for the proposed upgrade. Theiss was also the managing contractor of the recent RAAF College project at the East Sale Base, which utilised local businesses for around 60 per cent of the work.
“This is a $185 million project – it’s three times the size of the RAAF College construction project completed a few years ago,” Mr Chester said.
“The building phase will continue for almost three years, so it is a huge opportunity for local businesses and will help to stimulate the local economy over the duration of the project.
“I have been assured by the Department of Defence that creating opportunities for local tradespeople is a priority so I would encourage local businesses to take up this opportunity and register their interest with Wellington Shire Council.”