On 20 November 2017 the committee held a public hearing in Bendigo and on 21 November 2017 the committee held a public hearing in Wodonga. A list of witnesses who gave evidence is available at Appendix 2. As it has done following other public hearings throughout this inquiry, the committee has decided to table an interim report which focuses on the evidence received in Bendigo and Wodonga. In addition to the public hearings, the committee also undertook a site visit to the Puckapunyal Military Area in Victoria.
This is the committee's fourth interim report for this inquiry. The previous interim reports provide detail about the background to and policy framework for the committee's inquiry. In summary, the committee is investigating how the increased investment in defence through the 2016 Defence White Paper will deliver benefits and opportunities for regional economies and communities.
In particular, the committee is looking at the existing relationship between Defence and the communities surrounding Defence bases and whether there are mechanisms in place to facilitate consultation and communication between Defence, local government and local businesses. Another area of focus for the committee relates to the experience of local businesses when seeking work with Defence and whether there are factors inhibiting local small and medium enterprises from tendering for Defence contracts.
While the focus of this report is on the issues raised at the public hearings in Bendigo and Wodonga, this first chapter of the report provides information about the defence presence and investment in Victoria.
Chapter 2 covers the evidence received in Bendigo and Chapter 3 details the evidence received in Wodonga. Chapter 4 presents the committee's conclusions and recommendations.