The Queensland government is demanding a meeting with the Department of Defence amid environmental fears should a proposed expansion of the Shoalwater Bay defence training grounds go ahead.
The Australian Defence Force has proposed expanding the central Queensland facility as part of a joint training initiative with Singapore.
Queensland environment minister Steven Miles says the approximately 5000 hectares of public land involved in the proposed expansion is “environmentally significant”.
Dr Miles says he has written to Defence Minister Marise Payne to request a briefing from the department about their concerns.
“This is definitely worth fighting for because not only is it public land, it is home to a variety of flora and fauna species of conservation significance,” he said.
Dr Miles says the area under question includes 14 regional ecosystems of “biodiversity significance for Queensland” and are home to 11 flora and fauna species of state conservation significance.
“These include two endangered species of Cycad, six vulnerable species including the Beach Stone Curlew and Black-breasted Button-Quail, and three near-threatened tree and shrub species,” he said.
Under the Commonwealth Land Acquisition Act of 1989, the federal government can acquire state government land through compulsory acquisition powers.
Dr Miles says while it is within the federal government’s power to acquire the land, he expects the Department of Defence to assess environmental impacts if the expansion goes ahead.
Senator Payne met with the Rockhampton community last Monday to outline new timelines for the proposed expansion.
Government approval for the proposed upgrades is expected to be announced in the second half of the year with land acquisition set to commence after that approval.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has thrown its support behind farmers who will lose land.