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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2610

Senator VALLENTINE —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has a list been made public of alternative sites to Jervis Bay as possible options for the ammunitions depot and associated facilities which need to be moved from Sydney harbour? If the list has not been made public, is the Minister prepared to make it public and, if so, when? As the Dibb report on the Review of Australia's Defence Capabilities stresses the defence of the north, would it not make more sense to move the ammunition depot to the north of Australia rather than to the south-east corner? Will the environmental impact statement now being prepared for Jervis Bay include the topic of nuclear hazards? Surely this is desirable if Jervis Bay is to be further developed as an east coast harbour for United States nuclear warships as an alternative to Sydney and Melbourne, which are not regarded as suitable.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am advised by the Minister for Defence that he is not aware that there has been any formal public release of a list of all options considered by the Department of Defence for alternative sites for such facilities. Such information would be made available as part of the major environmental study which the Prime Minister has already announced would precede any Government decision on a relocation to Jervis Bay. The fleet's main ammunition depot should be near the fleet's main base. As it would be strategically and operationally unsound to have the fleet's main base in the north of Australia in a forward operating area-neither the Government nor the Dibb report has suggested this-the location of its main ammunition depot in the north would not make sense. I am further advised that the environmental impact statement for naval facilities in Jervis Bay would as a matter of course endeavour to address all aspects of the proposal which could have a significant impact on the environment. Implications of possible use of Jervis Bay by visiting ships would be addressed in that context. No facilities are proposed specifically for other than Royal Australian Navy ships.

Senator VALLENTINE —Mr President, I have a supplementary question. The specific question that I wanted an answer on concerned nuclear hazards. Is this topic specifically included in the terms of reference for that environmental impact statement? I understand that so far it has not been included. That is what I want clarified.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have no specific information on that but to the extent that no facilities are proposed specifically for other than RAN ships I do not imagine the situation would arise.