The Department of Defence has confirmed the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will be expanded and Defence will seek to develop an alternative site in the vicinity of Townsville as part of the Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI).
Following consultation with the local community, businesses, representative groups and landholders, land will only be purchased from willing sellers. Defence will not expand the existing Townsville Field Training Area to support the ASMTI.
The news comes after much controversy earlier this year when compulsory acquisition of farmland was proposed. The federal government announced on 7 February that no landowners would be forced to sell.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne said, "The approach outlined in the master plan will deliver significant improvements for the Australian Defence Force, enable us to fulfil our agreement with Singapore and drive much-needed investment in central and north Queensland."
Defence will also seek to purchase land from willing sellers at one alternate site near either Greenvale, Ravenswood or Pentland.
Based on initial assessments, Defence has said a training area near Greenvale would best meet the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Singapore Armed Forces’ requirements, both now and into the future.
Defence will continue to engage with willing sellers near Greenvale but has said sites near Ravenswood and Pentland will be considered "should Greenvale prove not to be feasible".
The government will seek to purchase land from willing sellers around Shoalwater Bay and Defence will commence detailed construction design work for facilities and infrastructure.
Development is anticipated to start in 2019 and finish in 2026.
The ASMTI will see the delivery of enhanced training areas in central and north Queensland for the growth and development of the ADF, and will provide support to Australia’s bilateral defence relationship with Singapore.
Defence said it will also host community walk-in sessions and industry engagement briefings in the local areas in the near future
Earlier this year, a Senate committee told the Department of Defence to review its communication and co-ordination mechanisms, following a report on the acquisition of land in the Townsville, Shoalwater Bay and Rockhampton regions.