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RAAF Base Darwin to see $7m facility upgrade

written by Staff reporter | September 20, 2021
A RAAF F35A Lightning II aircraft touch down for the first time at RAAF base Darwin for exercise Arnhem Thunder 21.
A RAAF F35A Lightning II aircraft touch down for the first time at RAAF Base Darwin for exercise Arnhem Thunder 21.

Leading Indigenous construction company Tiwi Partners has been contracted to deliver a $7 million explosive ordnance storage facility at RAAF Base Darwin, setting the Northern Territory up for a major job boost.

The company is expected to engage 95 workers during the project’s construction phase, while 96 per cent of sub-contract packages would go to industry within 50 kilometres of RAAF Darwin, according to Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.

“These works will support Royal Australian Navy vessels operating in the north,” Minister Price said.

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“They will include the construction of a new, special-purpose, earth-covered building within the existing explosive ordnance precinct at RAAF Base Darwin to support the Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels.”

“This is a significant investment in the Northern Territory economy, which is supporting local businesses and jobs in the Top End.”

Following talks between Minister Price and Master Builders NT last week discussing Defence’s $3.5 billion infrastructure investment plan for the NT, the Tiwi Partners contract comes as part of an $8 billion investment in northern Australia over the next decade.

This latest project had also come at a critical time as Australia continued to navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Our investment in RAAF Darwin was brought forward as part of the Morrison government’s $1 billion investment package to boost Australia’s defence industry during the COVID pandemic,” Minister Price said.

“This package saw $190 million of investment just in the Northern Territory to support jobs and the local economy.

“It’s also part of the $2.1 billion Navy Capability Infrastructure Sub-program, delivering maritime and landside facilities across Australia.”

The project comes following the official shift of overseas arrivals processing from RAAF Base Darwin to the airport terminal, which occurred last month.

As the Darwin International Airport and RAAF Base Darwin share use of the same runway, previously, passengers arriving on international flights were previously moved to the RAAF Base for processing, before being moved to the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

The deal to move the location of arrivals processing was made off the back of advice from Australia’s chief nurse, who raised concerns about processing lines of arrivals at the RAAF base during Darwin’s wet season.

The move requires stringent alterations made to the terminal itself to keep international arrivals away from domestic travellers, including separate air conditioning units for each part of the terminal.

According to Airport Development Group – which owns Darwin International – general manager Rob Porter, new walls have been erected inside the terminal to ensure overseas arrivals can be safely processed away from domestic travellers.

“Significant steps have been taken to ensure separation of repatriated passengers,” he said.

“This separation includes one entry point for passengers into the terminal from the aircraft and one exit point from the terminal onto buses to Howard Springs.”

“The ground floor part of the terminal where repatriation passenger [processing takes place] is completely separate and secure,” he added.

The first international arrivals to be processed under the new system were part of the Australian Olympic team, who returned home from Tokyo last month.

Written by Nastasha Tupas.

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