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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 572


Senator GARETH EVANS —In answering questions about coastal surveillance from Senator Robertson and Senator Kilgariff yesterday I said some things based on written briefs then in front of me which produced a suggestion of possible apparent discrepancies which I think it would be appropriate to clean up for the record. When answering Senator Robertson yesterday the figures I used measured the programmed Budget estimates of coastal surveillance spending against actual spending in 1983-84. These figures, which had only just been made available to the Government yesterday, give a true picture of the Government's commitment to coastal surveillance and clearly indicate that claims by the Opposition that we have cut spending on coastal surveillance are completely without foundation.

Later in Question Time Senator Kilgariff asked a long question, which honourable senators will recall ranged far and wide covering defence matters as well as matters relating to coastal surveillance. In answering that question I relied on an earlier brief provided to me. This brief contained figures which measured only this year's estimate against the estimate of last year. On these figures there appears to be a very slight reduction in funds committed to coastal surveillance for the coming year. However, the later figures show that we intend to spend more this year than we actually spent last year. With the Government's increased commitment to coastal surveillance demonstrated by the direct involvement of the Australian Federal Police in co-ordination and control of coastal surveillance, this target expenditure will certainly be met. I should add that the Minister for Defence advises, by way of a further answer to another matter that was raised in Senator Kilgariff's question, that in this year's defence budget there will be a 2 per cent real growth in operating expenditure which includes Royal Australian Air Force flying hours. Contrary to some misguided comments, there have not been any cuts in operating costs either in this year's Budget or in last year's Budget. RAAF flying hours will increase by about 8 per cent over the figures for 1983-84.