UP TO $1 billion will be spent upgrading Wagga’s two military bases over the next two decades, according to the federal government’s latest defence blueprint.
The Defence white paper unveiled on Thursday revealed $400 million would be spent on both the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka and RAAF Base Wagga at Forest Hill up to 2025-26.
Over the following 10 years, another $40m will be spent on RAAF Base Wagga and $120m on Kapooka.
The member for Riverina and newly-appointed Assistant Minister for Defence, Michael McCormack, said the expenditure would be for infrastructure, not recurrent spending.
“What it does is cement these important bases in Wagga,” Mr McCormack said.
“We all know how important they are to the Riverina’s economy.”
The number of uniformed personnel in the Australian Defence Force will grow nearly 10 per cent from about 57,500 to 62,400.
Most recruits are likely to undergo initial training at Kapooka or Forest Hill, meaning more dollars spent in Wagga shops.
“March outs are Wagga’s largest tourist destination,” Mr McCormack said.
The massive infrastructure and training spend up has been described as a double boost for the region by the president of the Wagga Business Chamber, Tim Rose.
“It’s fantastic news for the local economy,” Mr Rose said.
Wagga Mayor Rod Kendall said he had been aware of redevelopment plans at both bases but was taken aback by the size of the spending.
“It’s great news, isn’t it?” Councillor Kendall said.
See the Defence white paper at www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper