RAAF project boosts employment

SALE-based building companies have scored some of the major contracts at the East Sale RAAF Base, proving a boost to the local economy.

Gippsland MHR and Parliamentary Secretary to the Defence Minister Darren Chester said the government was investing $185 million in the major upgrade of the base, which would provide security upgrades, a new air traffic control complex, firing range and trainee living-in-accommodation.

He said the project reaffirmed the base’s importance to Australia’s defence capabilities.

“The East Sale RAAF Base is critical to defence’s training needs,” Mr Chester said.

“The upgrade is essential to meet existing requirements and to position the East Sale base to meet our future defence needs.

“For example, the new air traffic control tower will replace one built in the 1950s with the newest technologies, and East Sale will have one of the best facilities in Australia using the same systems as civilian air traffic control.”

Mr Chester said the $185 million project continued to deliver significant direct and indirect economic benefits in the Gippsland region, creating employment opportunities for a variety of subcontractors and other suppliers.

The importance of the on-going redevelopment project to the local economy was underscored by the principals of local contractors.

Laser Plumbing project manager Mal Duncan said 16 staff had been working at the base since June last year when the project commenced.

GBG manager Justin Hutty said he had employed 22 full-time workers to work on the air traffic control tower and Physical Fitness Facility.

Russell Wirken from R and M Engineering said his company had 15 staff working on the base for the past six to eight months.

Mr Chester said the East Sale RAAF Base had a long history in the Gippsland region and the support of the local community was well known.

He said the East Sale RAAF Base was highly regarded for its uninterrupted air space.

Works on the redevelopment project commenced in May last year and are expected to be complete by the middle of 2015.