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Newnham Defence precinct mooted

Edition 185_Payne

A $500,000 funding package will be used to develop a business case for a Defence Innovation and Design Precinct at UTAS’s Launceston campus.

The Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, announced in June that the Commonwealth would allocate $250,000 to seed-fund the project.

The State Government and UTAS will each contribute $125,000 towards the drafting of a master plan for the development at Newnham campus.

UTAS Vice-Chancellor, Peter Rathjen, said: “We are pursuing a major investment in our campuses in northern Tasmania at the same time as the nation’s spending on Defence will grow steeply.

“We aim to grasp the opportunities this presents to build on the excellence that exists in our Australian Maritime College (AMC) and in the north of the State.”

Professor Rathjen said the precinct at Newnham, alongside the AMC, would encourage the collocation of industry with the university.

It would catalyse new R&D collaborations and deliver investment.

“There is significant potential to leverage and build on the region’s existing Defence infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities,” Professor Rathjen said.

The feasibility study will follow a review by the State Government and UTAS of Defence opportunities involving the AMC and Tasmania’s well-developed maritime industry cluster.

The AMC is mentioned often in Canberra’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.

Released in June, the plan includes a commitment to a “continuous build” over the next few decades of up to 21 Pacific patrol boats, 12 off-shore patrol vessels, nine frigates and 12 submarines.

It estimates that by 2026 more than 5,200 workers would be needed, not including those in the supply chain.

Associate Professor Jonathan Binns of UTAS said: “There is a great recognition that the AMC will play a large part in this national enterprise, going right up to and beyond 2040.

“We are the national centre for maritime education, research and training, and that obviously feeds into a whole range of different areas.”

The AMC is the only Australian institute offering Naval Architecture and Marine Offshore Engineering degrees.

A new Maritime Technical College announced earlier by the Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, in his home city of Adelaide, will provide trade training, rather than the research and degree focus of the AMC.

Meanwhile, the State has handed over $10 million to "kick-start" the UTAS urban campus project at Inveresk.

A further $50 million has been allocated in State Treasury’s forward estimates – and will be provided in 2020.

The Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, said in June that the $10 million grant would be spent on progressing engineering, planning and design of the project.

“We’re starting to get to the point where cash flow into the project is required, so we’re making a down-payment today,” he said.

The Examiner commented: “The development will not only breathe new life into the city by attracting up to 10,000 students, but will provide numerous additional employment opportunities both in the construction of the inner-city facility as well as servicing the needs of the wider community …

“Defence Minister Marise Payne and Assistant Cities Minister Angus Taylor [have announced] that Launceston’s Paterson Barracks in its current form will close and be revitalised into an accessible space for the whole community as part of the $5 million City Deal.

“It is wonderful to see some cash being splashed in northern Tasmania.”

Image courtesy of the Federal Government

4 July 2017, Edition 185

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