The West

Cashed-up troops to benefit economy
Cashed-up troops to benefit economy

Cashed-up American defence personnel could be the biggest boost to the local economy since fly-in, fly-out workers and their super-sized pay cheques.

Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce president Justin Smith said the prospect of US warships increasing their visits to HMAS Stirling was exciting for businesses.

The issue is expected to be discussed when US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visits Perth next month to hold top-level defence and regional security talks with Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

Mr Smith said if more ships used Garden Island it would have flow-on benefits for many industries.

‘‘If they’re going to come you have to assume the local economy would benefit from it,’’ he said.

‘‘If the US is going to use the facility more, they will have to spend money to improve Garden Island.’’

Mr Smith said he hoped it translated into work for businesses in the Kwinana industrial strip and gave confidence to the local economy, which he said was ‘‘still struggling’’.

‘‘Hopefully, with the latest interest rate cuts, things will pick up and give people confidence,’’ he said.

‘‘If they’re confident they spend money.’’

Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said while the council had not received information from the Defence Department about changes to operations at HMAS Stirling, it expected increases in defence personnel at Garden Island to bring economic benefits to the region.

Mr Smith said there was also the potential for more private investment by tourism and accommodation industries in Rockingham if Garden Island was used more by the US.

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