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Chapter 5 LAND 17 Phase 1A Infrastructure Project

5.1                   The Department of Defence (Defence) seeks approval from the Committee to proceed with the proposed LAND 17 Phase 1A infrastructure project, which aims to:

n  provide new and upgraded facilities to support the introduction of new M777A2 lightweight towed guns; and

n  provide facilities suited to the organisational changes that have occurred in conjunction with the introduction of the new gun into the Australian Defence Force.[1]

5.2                   This project forms part of a wider Defence project, the LAND 17 Capability Project. This project will be delivered in three phases:

n  Phase 1A – procurement of 35 M777-A2 lightweight towed guns, the introduction of Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS) and munitions fuses;

n  Phase 1B – procurement of a Digital Terminal Control System; and

n  Phase 1C – procurement of self propelled Howitzer guns.[2]

5.3                   This project is the infrastructure component of Phase 1A, which aims to deliver new and upgraded facilities to support the introduction and sustainment of the LAND 17 Phase 1A capability into service. Phase 1B will not have facilities implications and therefore will not be subject to scrutiny by the Public Works Committee. Phase 1C will be referred to the Committee at an appropriate time in the future, if approved by Government.[3]

5.4                   The facilities proposed in this phase of the LAND 17 project include those directly associated with the storage, security and maintenance of the new guns, and those that support more broadly the new capability, including training and working accommodation, tow vehicle shelters and hardstands, and some engineering services works.[4]

5.5                   The facilities works supporting the new capability are proposed to be undertaken at six Defence sites across Australia.

n  Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland;

n  Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland;

n  Robertson Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory;

n  RAAF Base Edinburgh, Adelaide, South Australia;

n  Bridges Barracks, Puckapunyal, Victoria; and

n  Gaza Ridge Barracks, Bandiana, Victoria.[5]

5.6                   The proposal was referred to the Committee on 12 October 2011.

Conduct of the inquiry

5.7                   The inquiry was advertised nationally and submissions sought from those with a direct interest in the proposal. The Committee received two submissions to the inquiry and three supplementary submissions, one of which was confidential and detailed the project costs. A list of submissions can be found at Appendix A.

5.8                   The Committee undertook a site inspection, public hearing and an in-camera hearing on the project costs on 7 December 2011 in Brisbane.

5.9                   The transcript of the public hearing as well as the submissions to the inquiry are available on the Committee’s website.[6]

Need for the works

5.10               Defence submitted that the need for facilities and infrastructure is driven by the requirement to support the LAND 17 initiative which will substantially enhance the Army’s artillery capability:

Facilities and supporting infrastructure are required to provide effective working, training and security conditions to support the new capability by securing the guns and AFATDS equipped vehicles in accordance with their security classification, and to accommodate the changed organisational structure.[7]

5.11               The new and upgraded facilities would support the introduction of the new M777A2 lightweight towed guns, which will replace the 105mm Hamel Howitzer and 155mm M198 Howitzer fleets.[8]

5.12               Defence outlined the need to introduce 35 M777-A2 lightweight towed guns into the Australian Defence Force:

The reason we require artillery in generic forms is that in the land environment we must be able to provide the required support for our organisation. We cannot be reliant on another service, whether that is the RAAF or the Navy, to provide our fire support. We have to have organic, army owned and relied on means to provide our own effective fire support to enable us to provide sufficient weight of fire to allow us to manoeuvre freely. If we do not have artillery, we do not have the ability to provide the rounds to a desired location to shape what we want to be able to do and, also, we cannot necessarily rely on air support or naval fires. So we do need to have this organic and inside each brigade, so that we have that guarantee of fire support; otherwise we will lose a lot of people in battle.[9]

5.13               Defence elaborated on the need for the infrastructure component of Phase 1A of the LAND 17 capability project:

The general need is that we need to secure this equipment. The facilities that we have right now do not allow us to provide the appropriate level of security to the equipment. Also, we cannot undertake the necessary training that we need to undertake with the facilities that we have right now. We are going to deliver this capability into the service, and delivering a capability in the service is more than just delivering a piece of equipment; it is ensuring that our soldiers are trained up such that they can operate it. It is also ensuring that our maintainers are trained up to ensure that they can maintain it.

The need is that we have to ensure that we can actually achieve that capability outcome. We have to be able to train the soldiers, we have to be able to secure the equipment, and we have to be able to provide the appropriate storage for the equipment and ensure that we can meet our obligations with United States in terms of security.[10]

5.14               Defence provided an example of where the current facilities are unsuitable for the new gun fleet:

In the case of 1 Regiment here in Enoggera, those facilities, as you saw this morning, were built a long time ago for a very different requirement—a much smaller gun. The gun hangar there was built in the eighties and it was for the M2A2 gun, which is two generations previous to this one. It was a much smaller gun, so the facilities are too small to meet the requirements of the M777.[11]

5.15               The Committee is satisfied that there is a need for the works.

Scope of the works

5.16               The proposed scope of the works is detailed in Submission 1: Defence.

5.17               The proposed works are to be undertaken at six Defence sites across Australia. The proposed works will include:

n  new working and training accommodation, vehicle storage, workshops and gun hangars for four batteries of the 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, located at Gallipoli Barracks, Queensland;

n  refurbished working accommodation and gun hangars for elements of 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, located at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland;

n  refurbished working accommodation and gun hangars for elements of 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery located in Robertson Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory;

n  new and refurbished working accommodation for elements for 102 Battery of 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery located in RAAF Base Edinburgh, Adelaide, South Australia;

n  refurbished training facilities for elements of the School of Artillery, Bridges Barracks, Puckapunyal, Victoria; and

n  new training facilities for an element of the Army Logistics Training Centre, Gaza Ridge Barracks, Victoria.[12]

5.18               Modification and upgrade of engineering services and civil infrastructure to support the new and refurbished facilities is proposed at each location.[13]

5.19               The majority of the works proposed are located at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland.[14]

5.20               The proposal comprises a mix of new construction and refurbished facilities to provide the most cost effective solution to meet working and training needs arising from the project. Defence submitted to the Committee:

To meet the identified need, Defence has considered the options of building new or refurbishing existing facilities. In some instances, the re-use of facilities was considered not cost effective due to the dilapidation, structural inadequacy and functional inefficiencies posed. In other instances, the existing facilities were not located appropriately or in accordance with approved establishment zone plans. In these instances, the facilities proposed are to be new construction, located primarily on previously developed sites. In all other instances, the existing facilities are proposed to be upgraded to the extent required.[15]

5.21               For example, Defence outlined its plan to house the AFATDS system:

Across the board on all sides there was also the requirement for us to provide security for the storage of the AFATDS system and also for the training of the soldiers in the use of the AFATDS systems. So there was a requirement there for us to develop training classrooms and classrooms where the soldiers could exercise in the use of those computer systems … We do not have that capability anywhere on the estate, so where we could we have proposed that we will upgrade existing facilities to improve the security requirements, but there is one occasion at Edinburgh where we do need to build a new facility.[16]

5.22               Construction is expected to commence in mid2012. All major works are expected to be complete by mid2013.

5.23               The Committee finds that the proposed scope of works is suitable to meet the need.

Cost of the works

5.24               The total out-turn cost for this project is $46.5 million, excluding GST, which includes the cost of management and design fees, construction, equipment, contingencies and an allowance for escalation.[17]

5.25               The Committee received a confidential supplementary submission detailing the project costs and held an in-camera hearing with the Department on the project costs.

5.26               The Committee is satisfied that the costings for the project provided to it have been adequately assessed by the proponent agency.

Project issues

Phased roll-out of LAND 17 Capability Project

5.27               As discussed earlier in this report, this project is the infrastructure component of Phase 1A of the LAND 17 Capability Project, designed to support the introduction and sustainment of the LAND 17 Phase 1A capability into the Australian Defence Force. Phase 1A of the project is the procurement of 35 M777-A2 lightweight towed guns, an AFATDS and munitions fuses.

5.28               Defence submitted:

LAND 17 Phase 1A was approved by Government in 2009. This proposal addresses the Phase 1A infrastructure component. Phase 1B does not have any facilities implications. Facility requirements relating to Phase 1C will be the subject of a separate referral if approved by Government.

5.29               The Committee queried Defence on the possible implications on the value of LAND 17 Phase 1A to the Australian Army if LAND 17 Phase 1B and 1C were not approved by the Government. Defence responded:

... Land 17 phase 1A does deliver us a capability, albeit not the complete capability which we talked about this morning and which could be delivered if phases 1B and 1C were to be approved by government and rolled out into delivery. I think that the key point, though, is that we do get a capability outcome out of Land 17 phase 1A with the delivery of the M777A2 guns and the AFATADS system, as we discussed this morning.[18]

5.30               Defence expanded on the usefulness of Phase 1A as a standalone project, by supporting the introduction of M777-A2 guns:

The increase in capability as a result of the advanced field artillery tactical data system is a brain. It allows the computation to be done in a coordinated environment instead of having to rely on old Mac information that is passed by voice. As far as the battle management of those systems is concerned, that is what AFATADS allows us to do. We also get the benefit of increased range, lethality and better mobility and survivability for the gun detachment. It took them some time to bring the gun you saw this morning out of the shed and into the open; the old gun took longer. So, while it took two minutes to move the gun you saw this morning, it is still substantially faster, and that improves the survivability of our troops in contact.[19]

Committee comment

5.31               Having heard the evidence provided by Defence on the value of LAND 17 Phase 1A and the infrastructure component proposed to be undertaken as part of that phase, the Committee is satisfied that the value of the works would not be diminished, should Phases 1B and/or Phase 1C not be approved to proceed.

Training locations

5.32               Defence considered a number of options to meet the identified need for the proposed LAND 17 Phase 1A project. To meet the working and training needs arising from the project, Defence considered the options of building new or refurbishing existing facilities. As mentioned earlier in this report, Defence has proposed a mix of new construction and refurbished facilities, at six designated sites, to provide the most cost effective solution.[20]

5.33               The Committee queried the necessity of facilities works at the six designated sites, noting an option for the new guns to be housed at one location. Defence responded:

In terms of one facility, 35 guns, I am not sure that we would have ever considered that. As we discussed yesterday, we have a force disposition around the country. The artillery units are disposed around the country and are co-located with their supported brigade. You have 4 Regiment in Townsville supporting the 3rd Brigade, you have 12 Regiment in Darwin and Edinburgh supporting the 1st Brigade, and you have 1 Regiment here in Brisbane supporting the 7th Brigade. They are integral components to those brigades, as Major Taylor indicated previously about the need for that support integral to the manoeuvre element. So we were constrained somewhat in that that is where the units exist—that is where the people are and that is where the equipment needs to go such that we can ensure that we do achieve the capability that I was talking about of equipment, people and training. So, in the broader sense, I do not believe that at any point we would have considered concentrating the 35 guns into one location.[21]

5.34               Defence also outlined its reasons for constructing or refurbishing substantial training facilities at several sites around the country, instead of creating one centralised training facility for the new capability:

The main implication for not taking the short-term view of building a facility is that we will spend, over the lifetime of this system, significantly more in travel and lost time due to travel for the guys from five of the locations around Australia in moving to a central point to conduct training. Also, because the software system is such a complex one to set up, the four main operational unit locations need to continually go through those procedures all of the time. So it is just not really effective to have it in a central location and people fall in on it on a one week a month basis.[22]

Committee comment

5.35               Based on the evidence before it, the Committee is satisfied that Defence has considered all feasible options regarding the scope of the proposed works, including the placement of working and training facilities for the new artillery capability at six Defence sites around Australia.

Traffic concerns

5.36               The Committee heard evidence relating to traffic concerns connected with ongoing construction at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. The Committee notes that these concerns relate primarily to the Enhanced Land Force Phase 2B Project (ELF 2), a project approved by the Public Works Committee of the 42nd Parliament.

5.37               Specifically, local residents suggest that Defence has not complied with the recommendation made by that Committee for the ELF 2 project, aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the vicinity of Gallipoli Barracks.

5.38               Defence summarised local resident concerns relating to traffic around Gallipoli Barracks as follows:

Defence understands the primary traffic concern of local residents relates to the use of residential side streets between Lloyd Street and Samford Road as a means of avoiding the congestion at the intersection of Wardell Street and Samford Road. This practice is referred to colloquially as ‘rat running’, and in this case occurs along the three residential streets immediately outside the Lloyd Street entrance to Gallipoli Barracks: Norman Terrace, Ardentallen Road, and Douglas Street (to a lesser extent).

Defence understands that the continuing traffic congestion and associated rat running does have an adverse impact on amenity for local residents of these streets, and while personnel from Gallipoli Barracks may be undertaking this practice, we understand that the practice is commonplace, and not restricted to Defence personnel. [23]

5.39               The Committee tabled its report on the Inquiry into ELF 2 on 23 November 2009.[24] Based on recommendations made by the Committee, the Government moved an expediency motion to approve the facilities project on 26 November 2009.[25] At that time, Defence agreed to comply with additional recommendations made by the Committee, including the following recommendation related to traffic issues at the barracks: 

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence consult with state and local governments in order to finalise plans for an entrance off Samford Road, Enoggera with Defence funding a fair and reasonable portion of the cost of the road works, in order to ease traffic congestion in the vicinity of Gallipoli Barracks.[26]

5.40               Mrs Mary Harbeck, a local resident who lives in close proximity to Gallipoli Barracks, asserted that Defence has failed to address traffic issues connected to the ELF 2 project at Gallipoli Barracks:

Defence was to address these issues in two stated ways: one, a new entrance or exit to Gallipoli Barracks on Samford Road and, two, traffic management to minimise disruption to local residents, which would include defence and construction using main roads only to access Gallipoli Barracks, also in compliance with 'local traffic only' signage.

To date, two years later, for whatever reason, there is no new entry or exit on Samford Road, and it should be evident by the information provided in my submission, including the accompanying photographs, that traffic management has been and remains ineffective.[27]

Not only are our roads congested but residents also contend with daily unsafe practices on our street in the form of illegal left turns executed by defence, construction and others leaving Gallipoli Barracks.[28]

5.41               Defence submitted that it had complied to the best of its ability with the then Committee’s recommendation regarding the creation of a new entrance to the barracks off Samford Road, however a solution to the issue is not dependent on Defence’s actions alone:

I can report to the committee that we have continued to engage with both state and local government on that issue and we have engaged on numerous occasions with them. We are working closely with the Department of Transport and Main Roads here in Queensland on the entire Samford Road traffic issue. The point that we made at the last hearing—which I would make again, if I could—is that the issue with that road is more than just Defence. That road is a significant arterial road for Brisbane. There is a large amount of traffic utilising that road coming in from the west of the city into the city and we are but one element using that road.[29]

5.42               Defence further submitted:

Defence has consulted frequently since April 2009 with representatives from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Brisbane City Council in an effort to resolve the issue ... However, from these consultations it has become evident that without substantial upgrade works on the Samford Road corridor to ease the congestion around the Wardell Street intersection, any move to create a new Barracks entry onto Samford Road would only further exacerbate the congestion already being experienced on that road.[30]

5.43               Defence noted that they had been undertaking fortnightly meetings with the Department of Transport and Main Roads and had convened two public consultations where local residents were invited to attend the guardhouse to learn about what Defence was doing and to communicate any traffic issues they had around the barracks.[31]

5.44               Defence argued that management of the traffic external to the barracks was a matter for the Queensland Police and the Brisbane City Council, however notwithstanding this fact, Defence has a Base Standing Order in place which specifies:

No Defence member or civilian member posted to, working on or visiting Gallipoli Barracks is to:

a) conduct a left turn in a vehicle onto Norman Terrace, Ardentallen Street or Douglas Street from Lloyd Street; or

b) conduct a U-turn on Lloyd Street with the purpose of conducting a right turn in a vehicle onto Norman Terrance, Ardentallen Street or Douglas Street.

Defence members failing to comply with this General Order will be subject to Disciplinary Action and may have their ability to drive on Gallipoli Barracks restricted. Civilian staff will have a formal complaint made to their supervisor and may have their ability to drive on Gallipoli Barracks restricted.[32]

5.45               It was noted that Defence has also required their construction contractor for the ELF 2 project to develop a Traffic Management Plan to address construction workforce and delivery traffic issues on and around the barracks. Failure to follow the plan may result in a sub-contractor being removed from the project.[33]

5.46               Defence further discussed traffic management:

In the traffic management plan with the construction contractor we are trying to dislocate the time of arrival and departure of the construction workforce from the base workforce. So what we have done is smoothed out what would otherwise be a significant peak of traffic coming in and out of the barracks. Again, with regard to our ability to control that, yes, we control that for our construction workforce and we can control it for our military and civilian workforces in terms of hours. But ultimately, again, there is a limit to what we can do. Also, the brigade has instituted staggered unit departure times, so the units have different knock-off times, if you will, to again try and minimise that peak of traffic that goes through the local road network.[34]

5.47               Defence asserted that they had taken all steps within their control to address the Committee’s recommendation regarding the ELF 2 project:

I can understand the committee's frustration that this is something that was addressed three years ago by this committee and there was a recommendation that we work with the state and local government in order to try and come up with a plan to deal with this. All I can do is assure the committee that we have in fact been doing that. Immediately following that hearing, we met with the Department of Transport and Main Roads. We then met on a monthly basis with them and in fact recently those meetings have been on a fortnightly basis. We are at a point now where we believe Transport and Main Roads have approval to go forward with certain works, but I have also been informed that the status of that decision may change pending what happens with the forthcoming Queensland elections. Again, that is something that is well outside of my ability to influence.[35]

5.48               With regard to construction traffic, the number of construction personnel currently at the barracks is approximately 900 people[36], which is substantially more than that estimated by Defence.

5.49               Defence, in its evidence to the previous committee for the proposed ELF 2 works, explained:

We are anticipating that on average there will be about 350 tradespeople working throughout that period, peaking at around 500 at certain points during the construction.[37]

5.50               Defence also stated at that time, that it had been in discussions with Department of Transport and Main Roads with regard to construction management and construction traffic at the barracks:

[Department of Transport and Main Roads has] indicated that they would not be happy for construction traffic to come directly off Samford Road. On that basis we have agreed only to use Lloyd Street, noting that most construction traffic arrives early in the morning. We are looking very closely at managing our construction so that it does not impact significantly or as little as possible.[38]

Committee comment

5.51               The Committee considers its role in scrutinising the impact of construction of public works on local communities very seriously. The Committee therefore acknowledges the distress and frustration felt by local residents living in close proximity to Gallipoli Barracks, regarding the impact of traffic flowing through their residential streets from Defence and civilian personnel travelling to and from the barracks.

5.52               The Committee notes that the traffic concerns raised by Mrs Harbeck, as a representative of a number of local residents residing in close proximity to Gallipoli Barracks, are not concerns which relate directly to the LAND 17 Phase 1A Infrastructure Project. Rather, they are concerns which existed prior to the construction of the Enhanced Land Force 2 project, which was approved by the Committee of the 42nd Parliament. However, the Committee is concerned that should the traffic issues remain unresolved, the LAND 17 Phase 1A Infrastructure Project may further exacerbate current issues.

5.53               While it is not the Committee’s role to enforce the implementation of its recommendations made to agencies regarding public works projects, the Committee has a role in ensuring agencies who propose construction of public works take appropriate steps to mitigate negative impact of construction on local communities.

5.54               In this case, the Committee notes that Samford Road and Wardell Street are major access roads connecting the northern and western suburbs of Brisbane with Brisbane city. On the evidence presented to the Committee, it appears that the traffic congestion and ‘rat-running’ through residential streets near the barracks cannot be blamed solely on Defence and civilian personnel working at the barracks. The Committee accepts Defence’s submission that it is primarily the role of state agencies such as Queensland Police to enforce traffic rules, and not the responsibility of Defence.

5.55               Accordingly, it is clear that it is not Defence’s role alone to resolve the issues relating to traffic flowing through the Samford Road and Wardell Street intersections. It follows that the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads is the agency primarily responsible for developing a resolution to the issue of traffic congestion, in consultation with the Queensland Police, the Brisbane City Council and Defence.

5.56               Notwithstanding the comments above, the Committee is of the view that Defence should take a leading role and drive the negotiations to resolve the traffic concerns around Gallipoli Barracks at the earliest possible opportunity, noting the impact of these issues on the success of construction at the barracks and the importance of maintaining positive relationships with the local community surrounding the barracks.

5.57               The Committee is pleased Defence has escalated its consultations with the Department of Transport and Main Roads and encourages these regular meetings to continue to ensure a solution is reached at the earliest possible time. It should follow that Defence keeps the local community informed of the progress of these negotiations as they unfold and keep them apprised of the steps they are taking to achieve a resolution of the issues.

5.58               In its negotiations with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Defence is advised to keep that agency informed of accurate barracks personnel numbers including project construction personnel. It is concerning to the Committee that the number of construction personnel for ELF 2 was severely underestimated. Any additional construction personnel for the LAND17 Phase 1A project will only add to the traffic congestion.

5.59               The Committee notes the Base Standing Order issued to Defence personnel residing and working at Gallipoli Barracks, in addition to their directive to contractors to initiate traffic management plans to their staff, regarding travel to and from the base. The Committee commends Defence for issuing these directives and encourages Defence to consult with the Queensland Police to ensure that they are notified of any Defence personnel or contractors who have breached the directive so that action may be taken.

Final Committee comment

5.60               The Committee is satisfied, having regard to the evidence before it, that this project has merit and would meet the project objectives and need to improve the Australian Defence Force’s artillery capability. The Committee is of the opinion that the anticipated scope and cost is sufficient to meet the need and signifies value for money for the Commonwealth.

5.61               Accordingly, the Committee considers that it is expedient that the proposed works proceed.

 

 

Recommendation 5

  The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives resolve, pursuant to Section 18(7) of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, that it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work: LAND 17 Phase 1A Infrastructure Project.

 

 

 

Ms Janelle Saffin MP

Chair

14 February 2012

 

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