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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) here? Proving loyalty is at

the core of the matter. Joining

us on the couch this morning is

Stephen Smith. Thanks for the federal Defence Minister

coming in. You've probably

noticed the fog of upset in the

studio this morning. It's a

tough day for the ABC. A very

sad day. Can I just take the

opportunity of expressing con

dome lenses to the families and

the - condolences to the

the families and the loved ones of

the three concerned. Paul

Lockyer was born just down the

road from me. Started his

career in the. A few years back

fronted up for the ABC News for

a year or so. Sad in the west

as well. He was very well liked

but most importantly very, very

well respected. It's a e

terrible loss for the families

and a terrible loss for the ABC

and a tough day for you. So our condolences and our thoughts

are with the ABC and the

families today. We appreciate

those comments. Moving on to

some of the issues in your portfolio, those amphibious

ships are still haunting

you? We're working our way

through to the landing

helicopter docks from Spain

which will arrive in a few

years' time. We've had trouble

and I've made my disappointment

about that clear but we're

working our way through to make

sure that we have heavy ak

fibbus lift cover until the

landing helicopter docks

arrive. I announced yesterday

we would decommission

'Kanimbla'. It's not value for

effort. money. It's not worth the

effort. It's not a good

decision to spend any more

money on it so far as taxpayers

are concerned. We have the

Largs Bay arriving in December.

We're naming that HMAS Choules

after our last World War I

veteran. In the meantime we've

had cover from the 'Aurora

Australis' and the Ocean

Pre-protector. HMAS Tobruk will

go pack in for special work for

the cyclone season, reemerging October/November. We're looking

at what cover we want for the

Tobruk between the October to

the period when HMAS Choules is

in service which we expect to

be in January. Can that cover

be reliably provideed? I've

always been worried about a

capability gap which is why

we've been assiduous about

making sure we got a

replacement for the Manoora and

now the 'Kanimbla'. That's HMAS

Choules. In the meantime, we

believe that it's worth

persevering with HMAS Tobruk,

but I've always wanted as I put

it cover for the Tobruk. We've

got an arrange minute with New

Zealand where we have access

HMNZ Canterbury for regional

missions if required. But we've

always had cover two respects, firstly 'Aurora Australis',

which is an Antarctic Division

heavy ship, and from the 12th

of August until the middle of

October, Ocean Protector a

large customs vessel. I'm

satisfied we have what we need.

It's not the first time we've

had to use different vessels.

A decade ago we had to at short

notice take troops to East

Timor, we used a commercial

catamaran we're looking at what

further options we'll need to

take us through to the end of

the year. The decommissioning

of 'Kanimbla', though, is a

severe knock. It does leave our

capabilities demeeted. It must be maddening for you to have

reached this point? When I came

to office or when I became

minister we had three heavy

lift amphibious vessels. They

were all 20 to 30 years old.

And the regrettable truth is

that the transition was

mistimed. You often hear a

conspiracy that they would last

until the arrival of the

helicopter docks. Clearly that

wasn'ting if to be the case so

we had to fut in a real effort

to get cover. Getting the Largs

Bay from the UK is a

significant benefit for us. It

has a very large capacity. So

its arrival will be a

significant boon to us, and in

the meantime, we've had to use

the phrase that I adopt, we had

to make sure we've had not just

the HMAS Tobruk but also cover

for it. To date nothing has

occurred which has seen us fall

short. But this is an area

where you've got to be prepared

for ... Nothing has occurred

yet. You want to be keeping

your fingers crossed? I'm

making sure we have access to the heavy lift capability if we

need it for disaster relief and

humanitarian issues or for

security issues if they arise

at short notice. We haven't

got much time left. Just a broader political question.

It's not looking good for Craig

Thomson Labor MP, Fairfax

Newspapers again reporting this

morning about Somare of his alleged activity on the union's payroll. There've been two

suggestions made, one about his

lack of timeliless in declaring

support from the New South

Wales branch of the ALP to his

lawyers for legal fees. He's

not the first person who's been

late in a return. It happens. It's regrettable. Tony Abbott

himself has been the subject of

a late return. In any event, it

was a contribution from the New

South Wales branch of the ALP

to the lawyers of an ALP

member. So not much of a

conflict of interest there but he shouldn't have been late in

that return. Secondly we've

seen a series of allegations in

the papers today and two

responses to that. Craig in the

Parliament and outside the

allegations and any wrongdoing. Parliament strongly denies the

So we should let the processes

take their course. There's a

fair work investigation going

on. We should await the scout come of that investigation. Yesterday I saw a reference

from Craig that he had not yet

been cop tacted by Fair Work

Australia. So he is entitled to

put his view to that

investigation. But we have an

allegation or a series of

allegations. We should let them

run through to the keeper. The

Liberal Party will be out there

making all sorts of

suggestions. I just simply make

this point in passing. We

should all just calm down about these matters and let the

proper processes take their