Tank bid in a spot of bother

BALLINA has been short-listed to receive an obsolete Australian Army Leopard tank from the Department of Defence, but Ballina Shire Council says it can’t support the proposal to put the tank near the Ballina Cenotaph.

The Ballina RSL Sub-branch was originally unsuccessful in its bid for a tank, 29 of which are being given away to communities by the Department of Defence, along with the now-decommissioned F-111 aircraft.

But the sub-branch was recently advised it was now on the short-list for a tank because another sub-branch had not taken up the offer.

The council has since advised it cannot support the display of a tank on the advice of its insurer, and because the tank had ‘no significance to Ballina’.

The council told the sub-branch that it would have to cover the public liability and maintenance of the tank it if wanted to take up the offer.

Max Lewis, president of the Ballina RSL Sub-branch, said the proposal now had to go back to members for consideration.

The Leopard tank entered service with the Australian Army in 1977, and was superseded by the US-built Abrams tank in 2007. The 62-tonne armoured machines are about 10 metres long, nearly four metres wide and three metres high.

The Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, Greg Combet, who is responsible for the release of the decommissioned tanks, said the Government would honour the previous government’s pledge to pay for the transportation and installation of the tanks, estimated to be $22,000 per tank.

“The Government is happy to hand over these proud pieces of Australia’s military history to the communities who put their hands up to receive one,” he said.

One of Ballina’s own pieces of military memorabilia, a German trophy gun from World War I captured by Australian soldiers from the region, was buried long ago at a Ballina tip.

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