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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5809

Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 19 August 2002:

(1) Can a summary of the activities undertaken by the Fremantle Class Patrol Boat (FCPB) fleet be provided for each of the 2000-01 and 2001-02 financial years, including the following information: (a) how many days each of the FCPBs and/or the fleet as a whole spent on seagoing days; (b) of those seagoing days, how many days were spent on activities tasked by Coastwatch; (c) with reference to seagoing days of the FCPBs not spent on civil surveillance patrols, specify (as a proportion of the fleet) what activities they were engaged in and for how many days (eg. in the 2001-02 financial year, 20 per cent of the seagoing days of the total fleet, not including days tasked by Coastwatch, might have been spent doing military training exercises); (d) of the days any or all of the FCPBs were not at sea, what use was made of them (eg. work-up or evaluation periods, port visits, maintenance and leave periods, etc); and (e) with reference to their use on non-seagoing days, can a breakdown be provided of how many days the FCPBs (or a proportion of the fleet) spent in each different use.

(2) (a) In what Australian Defence Force exercises did the FCPBs participate in each of the 2000-01 and 2001-02 financial years; and (b) can the following information be provided: (i) how many boats, or what proportion of the fleet, participated in these exercises, (ii) the number of days they did so, and (iii) which of these days were international, joint or single service exercises.

(Note: The question does not seek information that would prejudice operational security, ie. information regarding where particular FCPBs have been used or when, but on use patterns of the fleet. The tender documents for the replacement patrol boats included a summary of the activities of three individual FCPBs over a year.)

(3) What are the costs associated with the following aspects of the FCPBs: (a) initial value (ie. purchase price paid for each FCPB); (b) average annual maintenance casts for each boat in each of the 2000-01 and 2001-02 financial years (include any automatic payments made to contractor for ongoing maintenance, as well as additional costs for any irregular or extra repairs that have been needed); (c) average daily running costs (on a seagoing day); and (d) average daily crew costs (ie. a breakdown of salary, on-costs, training etc.)

(4) What is the patrol range of an FCPB.

(5) Please describe what sea state the FCPB fleet: (a) usually operates in; and (b) is capable of operating in, and what this means in laymans terms.

(6) Can the Minister confirm that the FCPBs are not capable of operating in all parts of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone (FEZ).

(7) Please describe in general terms where the parts referred to in (5) are (eg. Torres Strait, Heard and Macdonald Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory etc).

(8) When were the last three occasions (or the month) in which any of the FCPBs conducted civil surveillance patrol south of Geraldton.

(9) Has Defence reached any agreement with Coastwatch on P3-C Orion use that includes documented criteria for their use.

(10) How many flying hours were provided to Coastwatch by Royal Australian Air Force in each of the 2000-0l and 2001-02 financial years.

(11) Were all of these hours provided by Orions; if not, please specify what other aircraft have contributed.

(12) How many hours does an average civil surveillance patrol by an Orion take.

(13) What is the total full cost per hour of using an Orion for civil surveillance.

(14) What is the southern-most point the Orions operate to in civil surveillance patrols. (ie. the most southern latitude that they fly to.)

(15) Has Defence given any consideration to entering into formal arrangements with Coastwatch on training, certification or exchange of staff involved in air activities; if not, why not; if so: (a) have any arrangements been agreed to in principle, or made; and (b) can details be provided of the progress made to this point.

(16) For how many hours in total did the Orion fleet collectively fly in the 2000-01 and 2001-02 Financial years.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) (a) FY 2000-01 - 2690 sea going days programmed.

FY 2001-02 - 2632 sea going days programmed.

(b) FY 2000-01 - 1688 patrol days.

FY 2001-02 - 2103 patrol days.

(c) FY 2000-01 - 27% of sea going days were used to support workups, military exercises and deployments.

FY 2001-02 - 21% of sea going days were used to support workups military exercise and deployments.

(d) When not at sea FCPB's conducted assisted maintenance periods (AMP), leave, maintenance and training (LMT).

(e) FY 2000-01 and 2001-02 non sea going days breakdown:

(i) AMP 49%.

(ii) LMT 51%.

(2) (a) FY 2000-01 - Penguin, Lumbas and Minor War Vessels Concentration Period.

FY2001-02 - Minor War Vessel Concentration Period.

(b) (i) FY 2000-01 - Penguin (2 FCPBs), Lumbas (2 FCPBs) Singaroo (2 FCPBs) and Minor War Vessels Concentration Period (9 FCPBs).

FY 2001-02 - (8 FCPBs).

(ii) FY 2000-01 - Exercise Penguin 20 Days.

Exercise Lumbas 22 Days.

Exercise Singaroo 4 Days.

Minor War Vessel Concentration Period 108 Days.

FY 2001-02 - 82 Days.

(iii) International Exercises conducted were: Penguin, Lumbas and Singaroo.

Single Service Exercise conducted was the Minor War Vessel Concentration Period.

(3) (a) $28.3 million.

(b) FY 2000-01 - $26.606 million for FCPB maintenance, divided by 15 boats equals $1.773 per boat average annual maintenance cost.

FY 2001-02 - $26.793 million divided by 15 boats equals $1.789 million per boat average maintenance cost.

No personnel costs or fleet intermediate maintenance cost savings are included in the above figures. All contractor costs are included, as are consumables, but these consumables are in direct support of maintenance.

(c) and (d) As provided in the response to Senate Question on Notice No 343 (Senate Hansard Monday 19 August 2002), advice was given that the past practice in answering questions of this nature has been for Defence to provide daily, hourly, full-cost recovery rate for ADF assets.

The full-cost recovery rate methodology is used to calculate the recovery or waiver costs of using a particular asset when Defence is asked to perform a non-Defence activity. The rate includes all the embedded costs that Defence would be paying whether or not the assets had been deployed.

The underlying assumptions in recent questions and debate, that the full cost recovery rate can be extrapolated to estimate the cost of operations is, quite simply, misleading.

The true cost to the taxpayer is the net additional cost. The net additional cost of a particular asset in an operation, in terms of extra fuel, rations and allowances would depend on the particular operation. It would also take account of the offsets within the overall budget Defence would make in absorbing some of that cost; for example, cancelling or postponing exercises or seeking additional efficiencies to help offset the additional costs.

The net additional cost is consistent with the approach taken by successive Governments in providing supplementation to the Defence budget for operations. It is this method the Government intends to use for its own costings and to employ when answering questions about the costs of operations.

(4) 2,360 Nautical miles.

(5) (a) Varies up to sea state 5.

(b) Up to sea state 5. In layman's terms, seas generated from a fresh breeze 17-21 knots of wind with probable wave height of 2.0 metres and with a maximum probable wave height of 2.5 metres. Note: FCPB capability is greatly reduced above sea state 3.

(6) Yes.

(7) The FCPB's do not operate at Heard, McDonald or Macquarie Islands, the Australian Antarctic Territory, Cocos and Christmas Islands, due to sea state limitations and the extreme range from mainland Australia.

(8) During the months of June, August and September 2001.

(9) There is no formal agreement between Defence and Coastwatch that documents criteria for their use. However, the Government has directed 250 Orion flying hours be made available in support of the civil surveillance program. Coastwatch may request Orion tasking for any civil surveillance related purpose they desire, within the capabilities and limitations of the aircraft. A process has been arranged whereby Coastwatch tasking requests are reviewed and prioritised with other operational and non operational tasking by Defence, who in turn inform Coastwatch which tasks can be undertaken.

(10) Defence provided 256.0 hours in 2000-01 and 100.3 hours in 2001-02.

(11) Yes.

(12) Eight to ten hours.

(13) The full-cost recovery rate methodology is used to calculate the recovery or waiver costs of using a particular asset, usually when Defence is asked to perform a non-Defence activity. A comprehensive set of cost factors, including management overheads, capital costs and depreciation, salaries and accrued superannuation, is used to calculate the recovery rate. In the case of support to Coastwatch, the associated costs have been absorbed within the Defence Budget.

(14) Orions on normal civil surveillance patrols will fly to 46S; the fisheries zone south of Tasmania. Orions have operated to approximately 57S, Macquarie Island EEZ.

(15) There is no extant formal arrangement with Coastwatch on the training of staff involved in air activities.

Coastwatch aircraft perform a narrow spectrum of roles performed by Orion aircraft and little benefit would be gained by cross-training Defence personnel in Coastwatch duties. In addition, security issues preclude the cross-training of Coastwatch observers for Orion duties.

In regard to the exchange of personnel, the Coastwatch Director General, Chief Of Staff and Operations Officer are military personnel and a Coastwatch Officer serves in Northern Command (NORCOM). In addition, Customs Officers have free access to NORCOM.

(16) The P-3C Orion flew 8,216 hours in 2000-01 and 9,624 hours in 2001-02.