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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment & Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence
Federal Member for Petrie
Teresa Gambaro MP
Federal Member for North Sydney
Minister for Human Services
Joe Hockey MP

23 July 2005

A bright future for HMAS Platypus

Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Teresa Gambaro MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, and the Hon Joe Hockey MP, Federal Member for North Sydney today announced the handover of HMAS Platypus from the Department of Defence to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Mr Hunt said the former submarine base at Neutral Bay will be remediated and the community will be consulted on the future uses of the site's buildings and facilities.

"The handover not only paves the way for full decontamination and clean up, but greater public access to the Sydney Harbour foreshore. The Trust is well placed to prepare a comprehensive plan for the site that would ensure its longevity for future generations," Mr Hunt said.

"The return to public use of Commonwealth lands around Sydney Harbour is one of the great legacies of the Howard Government. HMAS Platypus will join seven other historic sites around the harbour that the Trust is rehabilitating, conserving and opening up to the public. This early handover is a win for Joe Hockey who has fought hard for this outcome.

"The Commonwealth will clean up, decontaminate and rehabilitate the site. We will do this fully and completely and in cooperation with residents. While full costs are to be determined, the Commonwealth will clean up the site. We hope the NSW Government will contribute and we reserve our legal rights to recover costs in relation to long standing contamination. Our commitment to fully and completely clean up, decontaminate and rehabilitate HMAS Platypus is clear and absolute."

Member for North Sydney, Joe Hockey said that the potential to create a magnificent public place at this site is enormous. "The local community and the people of Australia will be the beneficiaries with outcomes such as parklands, pathways and new uses that ensure public access."

Teresa Gambaro, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, said the transfer of the former naval base to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was a creative solution to the debate about its future.

"Defence forces occupied this site from the middle of World War II until the mid 1990s. It served as a base for the Australian Submarine Fleet for almost 30 years. Like many foreshore lands around the harbour, the association of defence establishments and local communities is strong," Ms Gambaro said.

"This association will continue in the way the Trust tells the story of the site. It is also important to remember that industrial use of the site, dating back to the 1870s, is a major chapter of that story.'"

Mr Hockey said HMAS Platypus would become a great community asset.

"The community has long advocated for the retention of this site in public hands and today we see the Government deliver on my election promise to quarantine HMAS Platypus from residential development. The way is now clear for the community to have its say on the future shape of this historic site," Mr Hockey said.

"Nominations have been called for community representatives to join the Trust's Community Advisory Committee and I would encourage those interested to apply."

Further information, contact:
Ross Jordan (Ms Gambaro's office) 0407 100 521
Trent Zimmerman (Mr Hockey's office) 0419 690 617
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045

Commonwealth of Australia