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Wednesday, 8 May 1957


Mr HAMILTON - Training and accommodation costs money. Furthermore, you cannot buy aircraft carriers, as Australia has done, such as the " Melbourne ", for nothing. Nor can you buy Gannet or Vampire aircraft for nothing. It costsmoney to manufacture them here; they cannot be built in Australia for nothing. Do honorable members opposite imagine that the Woomera and Maralinga testing: grounds could be developed for nothing?' Did we get the Jindiviks for nothing? They know full well that all these things cost money, and large amounts of it.

We have done some stockpiling of equipment for the various services, but I will not deal with that because my time is limited. While we have been amassing supplies and training troops, 16,700 airmen have gone through the course of national service training since it was started by this Government. That plan was brought into* being much against the will of the Opposition, who fought the Government tooth and nail on the issue. The Government has developed Maralinga and other defence establishments, but none of these things has been possible without money. During the whole of the time that the Government has been spending that money it has been making an invisible contribution to private industry in this country. All the laboratories that have been used for the various tests and so on have provided an opportunity for private industry to gain some benefit - not directly but indirectly.

In the few minutes that I have left there is one matter about which I wish to speak. I have mentioned it in this Parliament before, but I am forced to mention it again because recently I have noticed in the press a report that a committee of the British Conservative party, known as the Conservative Commonwealth Council, has urged the development of naval bases in the Indian Ocean. They suggest places such as Darwin, Madagascar and Mombasa.

I want once again to express my disappointment that the Prime Minister has not announced plans for the construction of a naval establishment on the western seaboard of this continent. In 1953, the then Minister for Air, the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon), wrote to me, saying that the Government had had to move its Neptune bombers from the western seaboard because no submarine base existed there to enable squadron training to be carried out. He said that all these facilities were available near Richmond, in New South Wales, and to provide them in Western Australia merely for training purposes would be a costly duplication of existing facilities in the eastern States. A little later he wrote again and said, no doubt as a sort of sop to the people of Western Australia, that naval exercises were shortly to be carried out in the Indian Ocean, off the Western Australian coast.

As my colleague, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said last night, we have had an occasional visit to Fremantle by a warship, but that is all. Certainly, there is an air base at Pearce, upon which a considerable amount of money has been spent recently, but as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) said the other night, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has built up a large navy, with many submarines. Why does a country which is self-supporting and self-sufficient need submarines, if not for aggression? One of the main objectives in war is to cut the lifeline of the enemy. The United Kingdom is a wonderful customer for our wool and wheat, and would be even more so in an emergency but enemy submarines could cause real havoc on the shipping lanes and if a ship were hit, it would have to limp all the way back to Whyalla, or return to Sydney, before it could be repaired. I appeal to the Government to wake up and do something for the western seaboard of this continent. Along 4,300 miles of coast there is not a single dock to which a vessel damaged in war or even in peace-time in the Indian Ocean or down towards the Cape, can be taken. It must lrmp all the way to Sydney, or to some other part of the world where dock facilities are available. Honorable members should not forget that the distance from Fremantle to Sydney is akin to that from London to New York. I appeal once more to the Government to make a really good start in its task of ensuring Australia's security and development by establishing a naval dock on the western seaboard.







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