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Wednesday, 12 October 1983
Page: 1663


Mr SCHOLES (Minister for Defence)(5.12) —in reply-If the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) had completed reading my statement he would have seen that I intend to inform honourable members more of the arrangements for this project at the time of my defence budget statement. I would hope to be further advanced with the negotiations when that statement is made. It is necessary to make decisions based on the principle that we are to go ahead with the vessels before we can start negotiating industrial relations and work practice agreements. The Department of Defence, with the Department of Defence Support, has put in a considerable amount of time in ensuring that the procedures and the practices which will enable the construction of these vessels are satisfactory.

Technical details of the vessels and the contracts will be spelt out as soon as the agreements between the parties are concluded. The last time a Minister announced a timetable for the construction of a vessel it was in connection with the HMAS Success, which was to be delivered and in service this year. It is now to be delivered in three years time. I think it is now more important to ensure that the arrangements for the construction of the vessel are concluded than to make predictions about delivery dates. I make this statement today because I believe the House has a right to be informed of the Government's intentions at the earliest possible time. I will make a more detailed statement on the matter when the Government is in a position to sign the necessary contracts for the construction.

Question resolved in the affirmative.