Nationals WA candidate for Durack, Shane Van Styn, has called for a permanent defence presence to help diversify the economy of northern Western Australia.
Mr Van Styn said a defence base in northern WA would bring economic benefits to the region.
"Towns such as Exmouth, Port Hedland or Karratha could reap significant economic benefits from increased population, increased long term employment and new service industry opportunities."
Mr Van Styn said asset and border protection in this economically important region should also be a factor in the decision to establish a defence presence in northern Australia.
“With billions of dollars of infrastructure located between Port Hedland, Karratha and Exmouth, it seems clear to me that some of our Nation’s defence assets should be stationed in this region.
Mr Van Styn said there was capacity to improve border security in Australia’s north.
“Whatever your view on asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat, a permanently based naval fleet in northern WA would be able to better detect these boats and respond more rapidly to their detection or distress calls.”
Mr Van Styn said the re-establishment of the RAAF Learmonth base near Exmouth may also have merit to the region.
“Learmonth already has the critical infrastructure required to house a regional Air Force operation and it may be possible to utilise this asset in a dual role of defence and border security.
“By building on existing infrastructure, we could develop long-term jobs and training opportunities while further developing facilities in this region, including upgraded airports, wharfs, and improving schools and hospitals to meet the increased permanent population.”
Mr Van Styn said the recently announced Liberal-National Coalition’s Northern Australia package recognised the need to diversify the region’s economy.
“The Nationals are committed to implementing the Northern Australia package, which includes the development of agricultural opportunities and a food bowl in the north, an expanded tourism market and a strong energy export industry.”
Mr Van Styn said if elected, he would work with a Coalition government to drive growth in Western Australia’s north.
“The Northern Australia package will drive future growth in the State’s north and is the essential next step in developing regional Australia.