A PLAN to bid to host a national defence research centre will today be unveiled by the Labor State Government, with promises the North would be a key part of the proposal.
The Palaszczuk Government, if re-elected, would make a multimillion-dollar bid for Queensland to host a new $50 million Defence Cooperative Research Centre for Trusted Autonomous Systems - a facility which will investigate technology such as drones, unmanned vehicles and robotics.
Other states including Victoria are also eyeing off the CRC to cash in on estimated defence expenditure of $195 billion over the next 10 years.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said a key feature of the proposal would be to develop sites for testing, trials and evaluation.
"The Government has submitted a multimillion-dollar expression of interest to the Federal Government to secure the contract to further develop the state's defence industry,'' Dr Lynham said.
"We are committed to investing in test facilities in regional Queensland - both aerial and marine - should the state be successful in securing the CRC.''
Dr Lynham said autonomous and robotic systems were already operating in the manufacturing and mining sector in controlled environments but would need to be taken to the next level to become intelligent military platforms. "The systems need to be tested, including remotely powered systems, and this is where North Queensland could come into the equation,'' he said.
Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland and Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke said Labor would also create a new dedicated agency to oversee the creation of defence jobs in Queensland.
"Defence Jobs Queensland will have a regional presence in Townsville in recognition of the importance of defence to the city's economy,'' she said.
"DJQ will be supported by a North Queensland Defence Advisory Board to identify suitable defence opportunities for North Queensland.''
The new agency would bid on opportunities to secure Queensland as the primary location for defence contracts, support industry looking to be part of the defence project supply chain and build links with other manufacturing sectors.
Labor will also pledge to set up an NQ Defence Personnel Support Hub in Townsville, led by retired Lieutenant General John Caligari, to provide support and employment transition services to ex-defence personnel and their families.