Election 2022: PM promotes mental health support, Dutton floats $1 billion defence maintenance project

By Melissa Coade

Thursday May 12, 2022

Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison make more announcements. (File image, AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Scott Morrison has committed more than $55 million to improvements in mental health services in Tasmania, and Peter Dutton has separately announced more defence spending for a naval maintenance precinct in Sydney. 

Tasmania’s Head to Health, Head to Health kids and Aftercare programs will receive an extra $45.6 million from the federal government over five years, complemented by $9.4 million in state government money. The PM made the funding announcement in Launceston on Thursday morning.

“We have services that deal with incredibly acute needs. And we see some wonderful work going on in the prevention space in the community,” Morrison said.

“The bilateral agreement will also build and support the mental health and suicide prevention workforce, including the peer workforce,” he said of the deal with the Liberal Tasmanian government.

Liberal backbencher Bridget Archer joined Morrison at the press conference alongside health minister Greg Hunt and Tasmanian deputy premier Michael Ferguson. Archer holds the Tasmanian electorate of Bass on a tight 0.4% margin.

Industry has also been alerted to a new naval regional maintenance centre project in Garden Island, Sydney, which the federal government will soon open for tender.

According to government plans, the Regional Maintenance Centre East precinct should be operational within two years. Once complete, it will join a network of three other maintenance centres in Cairns, Darwin and Henderson. 

In a statement on Wednesday, defence minister Peter Dutton said a looming request for tender was a ‘significant opportunity’ for local industry in the Sydney region, with long term work packages and removing barriers for SMEs to contribute to the build.

“By adopting this new approach, the government is opening up opportunities for local small and medium enterprises to be involved in building our sovereign defence industry and reducing administration for the workforce, making it easier to do business with defence,” Dutton said.

“This [project] brings the initial investment across the network of four regional maintenance centres to approximately $1.327 billion that will initially create close to 200 direct jobs,” he added. 

The centre will initially support the three Hobart class destroyers and HMAS Choules.

The minister said other capabilities were being considered by defence for the initial contract term, including maintenance of Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock ships and their landing craft, one Supply class auxiliary oiler and two Anzac class frigates.

Dutton added the Garden Island precinct was projected to contribute $1 billion into Sydney’s economy over the next five years.

“The successful tenderer for this maintenance centre will play an integral role in planning, managing and delivering maintenance at Garden Island, the home of Navy’s major fleet units and a strategic asset for delivery of naval capability,” he said. 

“As we have seen with other regional maintenance centres, the provision of this crucial sustainment work provides significant long-term job opportunities for direct and indirect workforce, with the number of workers rising as the scope of services increases over the initial five year period of the contract.”


Navy strikes contract for first of four regional maintenance centres

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