Delegation puts Hunter on front line

AN ambitious plan to turn the Hunter into a major national hub for the Defence Force gathered some key backers in Victoria yesterday.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and some of the biggest names in the aerospace industry were targeted at an industry breakfast at Avalon by a strong Hunter contingent of business leaders and Newcastle MP Tim Owen.

‘‘The minister outlined the state’s strategic program and we talked to him about where the Hunter could fit in,’’ Hunter Business Chamber chief executive Kristen Keegan said.

‘‘NSW has not played a big role in the national defence industry, until now.

‘‘This is just the start and we welcome the fact that the NSW government is willing to talk. 

‘‘We wanted the Hunter to be standing at the front of the queue and I think we’ve achieved that.’’

The Herald yesterday revealed a 10-year plan to target the development of Defence Force operations in the Hunter, aimed at creating new jobs and associated industry, and diversifying the local economy.

Meanwhile, Canberra-based company CEA Technologies was yesterday confirmed as the first major tenant of the $500-million Williamtown Aerospace Centre.

CEA, which specialises in the development of defence-related technologies, formalised its intent to open a new office on the Williamtown site. 

The agreement is conditional on the  park being completed by January next year.

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