Army exercises could harm environment

Jul 31 2004

Military training exercises at Shoalwater Bay on the central Queensland coast were likely to damage a sensitive environmental area, the Australian Democrats said.

Democrats Senator John Cherry said the federal government had failed to answer serious questions raised by the local community, which would hold a protest rally in Yeppoon on Sunday.

“Shoalwater Bay is a sensitive environmental site and we don’t know what the effects of upgraded training will be, particularly if US forces use explosives utilising depleted uranium not used by the Australian army,” Senator Cherry said.

It was not yet known whether the federal government would contribute more to the upkeep of local roads to cope with heavy military transport vehicles or if the training would increase security risks for the central Queensland region, he said.

Senator Cherry said he intended raising the matters in federal parliament when it resumes next week.

He will speak at Sunday’s rally.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the Joint Combined Training Centre (JCTC) at Shoalwater Bay would provide vital training experience for the Australian Defence Force as well as providing a valuable boost to local communities.

Senator Hill previously announced Australia and the US had agreed to the concept of developing the Shoalwater Bay training area in central Queensland, the Delamere air weapons range and the new Bradshaw field training range in the Northern Territor