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Tuesday, 16 July 1946

Mr MAKIN (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aircraft Production) - I have had reason to order a complete investigation of public statements that have been made concerning this matter, and I am able to say that there is no truth whatever in declarations which allegedly have emanated from a source described as the official spokesman for the Dutch authorities. As late as this morning I had a further check made, and I can say positively that the Australian naval authorities have no knowledge whatever of any such request as has been reported in the press having been made for the services of the Piet Hein. As evidence that such a request would have been a strange one for them to make, I point out that the naval authorities state that because no fueling facilities are available at Thursday Island, the Piet Hein carried sufficient fuel to complete the trip to Darwin without re-fuelling en route. The first reports which appeared on this subject indicated that the Piet Hein was a mercy ship carrying foodstuffs to Thursday Island. They were proved to be wrong. Later, it was reported that the vessel carried two crates for that destination, but that, too, was proved to be incorrect. A subsequent statement was to the effect that the ship carried certain fodder supplies to Darwin for His Royal Highness the Governor-General. I understand that that also is incorrect. The latest report to which the honorable member has referred is equally unfounded.

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