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National security and relationships key to coexistence in Woomera prohibited area

29 March 2019

Joint media release with the Assistant Minister for Defence

The Government has today released the report of a review by Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM into coexistence arrangements in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), South Australia. The Government supports the findings and recommendations of the review and thanks Dr de Brouwer for his important work in preparing this report.

The review made 12 recommendations to ensure WPA coexistence arrangements remain fit for purpose over the coming years.

In announcing the Government’s response to the review, the Assistant Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon David Fawcett, said the WPA will remain a critical national security asset.

“The WPA is one of the few places in the world where the capabilities of next-generation warfare systems such as hypersonics, fifth generation fighters, electronic attack capabilities, and a wide range of defence science activities can be tested,” Assistant Minister Fawcett said. “Preserving the security of this unique area is paramount.”

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, said that in addition to defence activities, the WPA has significant Aboriginal cultural and heritage value, as well as being important for scientific research, environmental and tourism activity.

“The Government is committed to coexistence in the WPA. While Defence requirements will continue to take precedence, the area will remain open to other activities on a case-by-case basis, such as mineral exploration and the development of new mines,” Minister Canavan said.

The review gives clearer guidance to non-Defence users seeking to access the WPA and proposes appropriate security measures and safeguards.

The South Australian Government also played a key role in shaping the review’s outcomes. Continued close cooperation with WPA stakeholders will also be required as Defence leads implementation over the coming months.

A copy of the report is available at www.defence.gov.au/woomera/review/review-2018.htm

Media contacts:

Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180

Assistant Minister Fawcett's office 02 6277 3409