The Department of Defence (Defence) seeks approval from the Committee to proceed with the proposed LAND 200 Tranche 2 Battlefield Communications Systems Facilities project, at multiple locations across Australia.
According to Defence, the wider LAND 200 project is ‘a multi-tranche program that will modernise the command and control of the Joint Land Force’:
The capability will provide modern information technology to link sensors, weapon systems, commanders and their personnel in a networked environment. This will allow personnel to access and exchange command, control, situational awareness, and targeting information regardless of the operational scenario.
The works proposed for LAND 200 Tranche 2 will be undertaken at the following sites:
Robertson Barracks, Darwin, Northern Territory;
Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, Queensland;
Albury Wodonga Military Area, Bandiana, Victoria;
Simpson Barracks, Watsonia, Victoria;
Puckapunyal Military Area, Puckapunyal, Victoria;
Singleton Military Area, Singleton, New South Wales; and
RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.
The estimated cost of the project is $24.3 million (excluding GST).
The project was referred to the Committee on Thursday 23 August 2018.
Conduct of the inquiry
Following referral, the inquiry was publicised on the Committee’s website and via media release.
The Committee received two submissions and two confidential submissions. A list of submissions can be found at Appendix A.
On 9 November 2018, the Committee received a site inspection by presentation. On the same day, the Committee also conducted a public and in camera hearing. A transcript of the public hearing is available on the Committee’s website.
Need for the works
At the public hearing, Defence told the Committee that:
The Land 200 battlefield command system is a multi-tranche program that is modernising how command and control is conducted in the Joint Land Force. Land 200 is moving the land environment from an analogue voice and paper based force to a modern fighting force enabled by digital systems that generate speed of action through faster and more agile decision-making.
Defence elaborated on the multiple tranches of this program:
Tranche 1 of the capability delivered the first package to the battle groups within one of Army's brigades. This started the change from its old analogue systems to its new digital ones. Tranche 2 builds on the tranche 1 capability, and introduces the initial stages of a land combat system that will allow the Army's armoured fighting vehicles to share target information across a digital network.
According to Defence, the proposed works are required to ‘deliver new and refurbished facilities to support the training requirements for the equipment being introduced’ under this new capability. In order to achieve this, Defence stated that ‘upgrades to extant buildings are required, as well as a number of new buildings’.
The Committee is satisfied that the need for the works exist.
Scope of the works
Defence stated that, in considering this project, it considered both the adaptive re-use of existing facilities and the construction of new facilities to deliver the required training facilities for LAND 200. As a result of this process, Defence identified that a mix of refurbished and new facilities would be necessary to meet the identified need.
Defence split the project into seven project elements.
Project Element 1 – Robertson Barracks, Darwin
In its submission, Defence stated that:
The facilities requirements for 1st Brigade at Robertson Barracks will be largely met by refurbishing Building 830. These refurbishment works will provide separate offices and open plan for Commonwealth and contracted staff, a storage/printer room and a meeting room, two classrooms, a kitchen area and communication services. The Quartermaster store and ablutions will be refurbished in the nearby Buildings 828 and 829 respectively. The vehicle training will be conducted in an existing compound with bollards installed in the vehicle shelter (Building 826).
Defence also noted that the workshop, external training area and car parking requirements will be addressed by existing facilities at Robertson Barracks.
Project Element 2 – Lavarack Barracks, Townsville
In meeting the facilities need at Lavarack Barracks, Defence stated that it intends to re-use and extend existing facilities:
The facilities requirements for 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks will be partially met by refurbishing Building G2725. These refurbishment works will provide separate offices and open plan for Commonwealth and contracted staff, a meeting room, ablutions, kitchen area and communications services. An extension to Building G2725 will contain two new classrooms, the Quartermaster store, battery storage and workshop. The external training, vehicle training and carpark areas will be conducted in vacant areas adjacent to the nearby Building G0410.
Project Element 3 – Albury Wodonga Military Area
Defence told the Committee that the proposed works here will involve the refurbishment of two existing training facilities at Gaza Ridge Barracks.
For the Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Defence proposed to refurbish Building 421 at Gaza Ridge Barracks:
These refurbishment works will provide one classroom, a training workshop, battery storage, administrative areas, Quartermaster store, ablutions, kitchen area and associated communications. Bollards will be provided in the vehicle training area which will re-use an existing hard standing area adjacent to Building 421.
At the Army School of Ordnance, Defence proposed refurbishing Building 588, to provide ‘one office, four classrooms and battery storage’. The need for administrative functions, Quartermaster storage, workshop, ablutions, kitchen areas and communications will be addressed by existing facilities. An existing area nearby to Building 588 will provide an external training area, vehicle training area and car parking.
Project Element 4 – Simpson Barracks, Watsonia
At Simpson Barracks, Defence proposed the refurbishment of an existing training facility:
The facilities requirements for the Defence Force School of Signals at Simpson Barracks will be partially met by refurbishing Buildings 290 and 342. These refurbishment works will provide two classrooms and battery storage in Buildings 290 and 342 respectively and a Quartermaster Store and workshop in Building 342. A vehicle training area will be established in an existing car park adjacent to Building 290. Bollards will be provided in the vehicle training area.
The need for administrative areas, ablutions, kitchen area and communications will be met by existing facilities. The external training area and car parking will utilise existing space near Buildings 290 and 342.
Project Element 5 – Puckapunyal Military Area
The proposed works at Puckapunyal Military area will be undertaken at four locations:
The facilities requirements for the School of Armour at the Puckapunyal Military Area will be partially met by refurbishing Building 21. These refurbishment works will provide two classrooms, an Exercise Control room, battery storage and ablutions.
The facilities requirements for the School of Artillery at the Puckapunyal Military Area will be partially met by refurbishing Building 1692. These refurbishment works will provide two classrooms and battery storage.
The facilities requirements for the Army School of Transport at the Puckapunyal Military Area will be partially met by refurbishing Building 845. These refurbishment works will provide two classrooms.
The facilities requirements for the Central Training Area at the Puckapunyal Military Area will be partially met by refurbishing Building 855. These refurbishment works will provide two classrooms, Quartermaster store, battery storage, workshop and kitchen areas.
The need for administration areas, some Quartermaster stores, workshops, ablutions, kitchen areas, and communications will be met by existing facilities at all four locations. External training areas, vehicle training areas, and car parking will also be met by existing spaces.
Project Element 6 – Singleton Military Area
Defence proposed to construct a new training facility at Lone Pine Barracks at the School of Infantry within the Singleton Military Area. This building will include ‘two new classrooms, an external training area, a vehicle training area and car parking.
Project Element 7 – RAAF Base Edinburgh
At RAAF Edinburgh, Defence told the Committee that it proposes to refurbish Building H1260 to meet the identified need.
According to Defence:
The Building H1260 refurbishment works will provide one classroom, a Quartermaster store and battery store. Existing areas within Building H1260 already satisfy the requirements for the workshop, ablutions, kitchen area and communication requirements. Further administrative areas are not required at RAAF Base Edinburgh as instructors will fly in to conduct courses.
Defence stated that a vehicle training area and car parking will be constructed to the north-west of Building H1260 to enable vehicle training.
The Committee finds that the proposed scope of works is suitable for the works to meet its purpose.
Cost of the works
The total cost for this project is estimated at $24.3 million, excluding GST. This includes the cost of construction, management and design fees, furniture, fittings and equipment, contingencies and an escalation allowance.
The Committee received a confidential supplementary submission detailing the project costs and held an in-camera hearing with Defence on the project costs.
The Committee is satisfied that the costings for the project provided to it have been adequately assessed by the proponent entity.
The Committee did not identify any issues of concern with the proposal and is satisfied that the project has merit in terms of need, scope and cost.
Having regard to its role and responsibilities contained in the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the Committee is of the view that this project signifies value for money for the Commonwealth and constitutes a project which is fit for purpose, having regard to the established need.
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 works: LAND 200 Tranche 2 Battlefield Communications Systems Facilities project.
Proponent entities must notify the Committee of any changes to the project scope, time, cost, function or design. The Committee also requires that a post-implementation report be provided within three months of project completion. A report template can be found on the Committee’s website.