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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 648


Senator VALLENTINE —by leave-In response to this report I would first like to mention some of the concerns that have been voiced to me by the citizens of Jervis Bay. The Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley) claimed that-I am quoting from his accompanying document:

No Government decision on relocation would be taken before environmental studies were completed.

He also says:

Jervis Bay has been clearly established by defence examination as the most suitable alternative base in the east for the fleet.

The citizens in the area will be looking forward to a fair environmental impact study. I hope that some doubts which I have had voiced to me about this environmental impact study are unfounded. Some people are saying that it will be merely a whitewash job, that it is a foregone conclusion and that Jervis Bay will be the new major naval base on the east coast. It is high time that the Minister visited Jervis Bay to speak with concerned citizens who have been worried about this project for some time. I understand that he is going there next week, and I hope that he will be available to hear from the locals as well as from navy personnel. Upgraded facilities for the Royal Australian Navy will have obvious implications for the Seventh Fleet of the United States of America, a nuclear navy. Page D-7 of the report under the heading `Nuclear Safety Considerations' states:

A fleet base at Jervis Bay would be suitable for this purpose provided incompatible civil developments do not take place.

This is a worry that has been on the minds of people in the area for quite a long time. There are sources in the United States, including Senator Ted Kennedy, who talk about Jervis Bay as another possible home porting site and certainly the site of many future ports of call when the Royal Australian Navy facilities there are upgraded. People are very concerned about this implication of nuclear armed and nuclear powered ships having access to Jervis Bay when it is upgraded to suit the Royal Australian Navy. If citizens at Groton in the United States, where Trident submarines are being manufactured, have heard of Jervis Bay-they know all about it-obviously there must have been government to government discussions about the possibility of frequent port calls which the people of Australia have not been informed about. Whenever questions about this have been asked, there has been the standard fob-off reply. I think it is something that people on this side of the country need to be aware of; that there will be a greater presence of the nuclear navy of the United States if Jervis Bay becomes the Royal Australian Navy's major fleet base on the east coast.

As far as the west coast of Australia is concerned, there are many people who feel that it is important that the west coast be defended. But I contend that we are perhaps looking at national security from the wrong point of view if we are looking to military solutions. What we should be looking at are solutions to the security problem of Australia in terms of building better trading relationships with our neighbours and making sure that we have better relationships by training our diplomats at a fraction of the cost that it takes to build submarines and other shipping to expand the role of the Royal Australian Navy on the west coast.

Debate interrupted.