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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1731

Mr GAYLER —My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. I refer to the Minister's recent announcement that the Government proposed to develop in conjunction with South Pacific countries a Pacific patrol boat to assist countries in that region to protect their 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones. I ask the Minister whether he can provide the House with any further information on developments in this project which will be so significant for our shipbuilding industry.

Mr SCHOLES —Since the announcement during the South Pacific Forum of the proposal for a South Pacific patrol boat, a number of Forum countries have expressed support for the project. I am sure that the House will welcome the fact that advertisements will appear in the Press next Saturday, inviting qualified companies to express interest in tendering for the design, construction and supply of Pacific patrol boats. I emphasise that the Government is keen to maximise the contribution of the Australian shipbuilding industry to this important project-a project which will do much to assist our South Pacific friends to meet their surveillance requirements. It is hoped that the tender documents will be available before the end of the year. The Government sees this project as being particularly important because it meets a growing need amongst the South Pacific nations to maintain the security of their economic zones. This project has been talked about by successive governments for a number of years. This government is happy to be able to indicate to the House that the project is now alive and well, and expects that the first supplies of patrol boats under this project will take place next year.