The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin docks at Mackay harbour late yesterday afternoon.
The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin docks at Mackay harbour late yesterday afternoon. Tony Martin

Sydney naval base could go, with tasks heading to Qld

SYDNEY Harbour's iconic Garden Island naval base could be shut down and various functions relocated to Brisbane and north Queensland under a Labor government, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on Tuesday.

The government plan to create a new "future navy taskforce" would include shutting the Garden Island base and moving some of its functions to Brisbane.

Mr Rudd said the new taskforce would advise the government on "implementing recent high-level reviews" including basing more ships in the north.

The taskforce would help create a new submarine, amphibious assault ships and helicopter base in Brisbane, as well as expansions of existing bases in Cairns, Darwin, Sydney and Perth.

It comes after last year's Defence Force Posture Review and the much-maligned Defence White Paper released after delays this year.

The move could cost more than $6 billion, according to the white paper, and could face opposition from some within the military.

But it also shows a turnaround for the government on the issue, after previously stating the move would not go ahead.


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