Ms Price said the redevelopment would deliver “new and improved” facilities for the nation’s warfare and navigation training establishment.
“A new training precinct, new living-in accommodation for at least 236 trainees, a medical clinic, and upgrades to existing water, electrical and communication services, base security and galleys are all part of the project,” she said.
“Around 360 construction personnel will be employed at the site when construction reaches its peak, and it is expected that another 10,000 personnel from the local manufacturing and transport industries will benefit.”
She said under the Commonwealth’s defence policy for industry participation, Lendlease had promised to award 95 per cent of its subcontract packages to businesses within 60 kilometres of the training centre.
“Not only is this project a great opportunity for local small businesses, but it is providing our hardworking sailors at HMAS Watson with new and improved facilities for their training,” Ms Price said.
The need to upgrade or relocate the facility has been flagged by Defence for a number of years. After assessing options for HMAS Watson, established in 1945, it concluded there would be no benefit in closing the base and relocating its functions to other existing Defence sites.
Some local residents had called for the base to be moved outside the Sydney area.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works last year recommended the redevelopment go ahead but said it should not stop the building of a cliff-top track along the eastern perimeter of the base as part of the Bondi to Sydney Walk.
Defence told the parliamentary inquiry the engineering services and security, accommodation, catering and health services were “below the required standard to support the throughput of the base”.
“Whilst facilities at HMAS Watson have been maintained and adaptively reused, many of them have now reached the end of their design life and do not meet contemporary working, training or living standards, or are not fit for their current purpose,” Defence said.
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.