Queensland farms to be aquired for Singapore war games
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has revealed plans to acquire land to the west of the existing Shoalwater Bay training area, north of Rockhampton, to cater for larger war games and an increased number of Singaporean troops training in the region.
The upgrades would be paid for by the Singaporean Government, as part of the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed late last year.
More than 40 landholders in the Stanage Bay and Marlborough area have been issued with notices that their property may be acquired for the expansion.
About 200 locals gathered at the Marlborough Public Hall on Monday afternoon for what became a fiery community meeting between landholders and local politicians.
Grazier Alf Collins said he was not interested in a pay out and would do everything to keep the cattle station owned by his family for generations.
"I'm in the middle of it, and I'm definitely not for sale and not for acquisition," Mr Collins said.
He said they were preparing for a David and Goliath battle.
"Bullying is a word that comes to mind very quickly and if you were in kindergarten, you'd be ostracised, counselled and your parents pulled in because you bullied little toddlers," Mr Collins said.
Cattle Station owner Joanne Rae said she had never seen the town so worked up.
"The attendance here today shows everyone here is willing to fight this. We've got more people in town today then I can recall ever being here," she said.
"We're just not wanting to leave, we brought our children up here and we hoped to be on this particular piece of land until we passed away, and it would still be in the family when our grandchildren were grown up."
'We need to protect the farming sector'
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has thrown her support behind the residents and wants the Government to reconsider different areas.
She said she had spoken to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the issue and planned to meet with the Defence Minister Marise Payne next week.
"We only have so much prime agricultural land in Australia, look after it, and don't just hand it over for Defence training," Ms Hanson said.
"Yes Singapore will bring in $2.5 billion in the short term, but we need to look at the long term and as I always said we need to protect the farming sector that we have in Australia.
"Charters Towers, the same thing up there, 23 farming families, prime agricultural land, we're talking about 26,000 head of cattle there, we're talking up to 70,000 head of cattle here. You take that out of the community it is going to have a huge impact."
The final expansion area will be confirmed by the Defence Department later this year.