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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2799

Senator MACKLIN —My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence concerns a response given by the Minister to my question of 30 May concerning the upgrading of the United States base at Nurrungar. Did the Minister not mislead the Senate by suggesting that my question would be answered by the Prime Minister's statement on United States bases, a statement which in fact contained not one shred of information concerning the upgrading of the Nurrungar base? Can the Minister now answer whether the United States, in keeping with a specific obligation, has informed the Australian Government of the $126m upgrading of Nurrungar? If so, has the Government accepted the upgrading and the implications that flow from it? If the United States has not informed Australia, why has it not?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am sorry if Senator Macklin feels he may have been misled by anything I said last week. Certainly there was no intention on my part to do so. To the extent that there was insufficient information in the Prime Minister' s statement about Nurrungar in particular to satisfy him I will endeavour to ensure both by what I say now and, more particularly, by taking the question on notice, that Senator Macklin does get a reply that will go some way to satisfying him. I am able to say, from the material in front of me at the moment , that on the basis of procedures now in place the Government receives timely information from the United States of all plans and proposals that would affect the joint facilities. The practice in the past has been that, if the Government approves the United States proposal for new works at any of the joint facilities , a statement is issued when tenders are called to carry out the work. The Government sees no reason to alter this practice. I am told that the Minister for Defence has written to the South Australian Premier informing him of these Commonwealth procedures relating to announcements of proposed changes to the joint facilities. That is all the information I have in front of me at the moment that bears upon Senator Macklin's question, but I will refer the question to the Minister for Defence, and to any other Minister who might have a role in this respect, including the Prime Minister, to see whether any supplementary information can be provided.