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Thursday, 11 May 1939

Mr MAHONEY (Denison) .- Today's newspapers report that it is proposed to construct a naval dock in Sydney at a cost of £1,000,000.

Mr Menzies - In what paper did the honorable member see that?

Mr MAHONEY - -In the Canberra Times, I think. At any rate, I understand that such a dock is to be built. I ask the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) whether he has obtained a report from' competent authorities on the suitability of the various harbours of Australia for this purpose. I have received a report from an eminent naval authority to the effect that, for the purposes of a naval dock, the Hobart harbour possesses advantages over all others in Australia. I understand that Fremantle also possesses certain advantages, but unlike the Hobart harbour it is not surrounded by high hills, that would protect ships lying inside from enemy gunfire. The Prime Minister shakes his head, because I dare to suggest a site for this dock. As a humble member of Parliament, I insist upon my right to make representations on the subject. I ask the Government to take into consideration what I believe to be an important factor in the defence of Australia. As I have said, I have heard expert naval opinion to the effect that Hobart is the most suitable place for such a dock, and, therefore, I believe it to be tuy duty to place these representations before the Government. For three years I have been making representations on the subject, but have received no satisfaction. I am informed that, because there are two entrances to the port of Hobart, it would be impossible for an enemy to close the port. That is an advantage which no other harbour in Australia possesses. I ask the Minister for Defence to have a naval survey made of the port of Hobart, and if the result of that survey is unfavorable, I am prepared to accept it, but until such survey is made I shall feel justified in pressing the claims of Hobart. The Commonwealth Government is the big partner among Australian governments, and, unfortunately, it is always inclined to listen to the representations of the big States, rather than to those of the small ones. Commonwealth Ministers have always slighted the representations we make on behalf of Tasmania, realizing, as astute politicians, that there is little support to be had from Tasmania. I defy the Prime Minister to disprove the report which I have obtained from a competent naval authority regarding the port of Hobart.

Mr Menzies - I shall go further, and say that I think the port of Hobart is quite the most attractive place in Australia.

Mr MAHONEY - I want justice. According to the report I have received, the hills around the port of Hobart are sufficiently high to prevent enemy ships from firing upon naval vessels lying in the port. I find myself unable to get what I. would call a satisfactory reply from the Minister. We are laying down a programme for the defence of Australia which will cost many millions of pounds, but very little of the money is to be expended in Tasmania. I appeal to the Minister for Defence to order a naval survey of the river and port at Hobart in order to ascertain whether it is satisfactory and whether from the point of view of defence it is not at least as well protected ns any other Australian port.

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