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Wednesday, 3 October 1956

Mr Ward d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -

1.   Was it decided by the Government,some time ago, to modernize H.M.A.S. " Hobart "?

2.   Has the work now been discontinued and the ship placed in reserve?

3.   Has approximately £1,500,000 been expended on modernization?

4.   Does the change in Government policy mean that this amount of money has been unnecessarily wasted?

5.   Is it a fact that H.M.A.S. " Hobart " in its present state would be of no use to the Royal Australian Navy, and that an additional expenditure of at least £1,000,000 would have to be incurred if this ship were to fulfil any role in the fleet?

6.   If there has been official bungling, what is the explanation?

Mr McMahon (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies: -

1.   Yes. In 1950-51 when the Korean Warwas at its climax and the threat of global war "was considered much greater than now, it was decided that the " Hobart " should be modernized as a first class light cruiser. However, in view of the reduced world tension, the financial restrictions of 1952 disrupted this plan and it was then decided that she should replace the " Australia " as the training ship. Although her primary role was to have been as a training ship, she would also be used in war-time in an anti-raider role. In 1953, when it was decided that one carrier was to be in an operational stale, the nonoperational carrier became a logical choice for a training ship and thus, the primary role of the " Hobart " was removed. Only refitting work was completed and the " Hobart " placed in reserve.

2.   Yes.

3.   £1,386,170 was spent on refitting work and some items of modernization which would be necessary no matter in what role the ship might be employed.

4.   No. Work done was on the hull, machinery and electrical wiring which are now good and can be used in whatever role in which the ship is completed.

5.   The ship could be completed for various roles such as convoy escort or guided missile ship. Expenditure necessary to complete " Hobart " would depend on which role was chosen but would be approximately £1,000.000. To build a comparable vessel to-day would cost not less than £10,000,000.

6.   There has been no bungling, official or otherwise.

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