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Mr Rudd used Tuesday's announcement to underline his election pitch as a visionary, saying ''the priority the government has is to make the big calls on the future of our economy, the future of our defence industry and infrastructure and the future of our jobs''.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's push to start the process of relocating the historic Garden Island naval facilities met a mixed response from defence experts.
Lowy Institute military fellow James Brown said there was some strategic merit in moving facilities north but not at a likely cost of more than $10 billion. ''I disagree that we need to uproot the entire Navy We are already struggling to fund our defence budget,'' he wrote in a blog on the institute's website.
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the plan, with Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James slamming it as ''lunacy'', saying Brisbane would not work because it had no deep water port, had no manoeuvre room and was not defensible.
''Imagine how those Garden Island workers and their families felt as they woke up to the news this morning What a devastating start to the day,'' he said.
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Under the plan, which was also attacked by the NSW government, military top brass would spend two years studying options to close Garden Island and move its facilities to Brisbane or Perth, as well as upgrade bases at Darwin, Cairns and Townsville.
Mr Rudd said he was drawing principally on the 2012 Defence Force Posture Review, which concluded that while Garden Island was ''a highly effective homeport'', pressure from ship traffic both naval and commercial meant the government should consider building a support base ''in the long term''.
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Premier Barry O'Farrell drew on a 2011 report by consultants KPMG to argue that closure of the Garden Island precinct would pull more than $470 million out of the NSW economy and threaten more than 4000 direct jobs.
But he avoided direct answers on whether Defence either the department or the uniformed forces had been directly consulted about the plan. He said Converse Chuck Taylor White Low only that the government had been ''in deep consultations through the Defence Minister [and] with all the relevant ministers within the government''. Fairfax Media understands the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, not Defence, worked on the proposal.
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Defence was not consulted on Labor's high powered taskforce to look at moving major navy facilities from Sydney to Queensland, it emerged on Tuesday.
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