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Tuesday, 10 March 1970

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - by leave - I propose in the course of my remarks to provide a broad view of our defence policy and the considerations that have contributed to it. 1 shall refer to the Government's defence objectives and to our planning arrangements which support them; to the capacity of our armed forces and to our proposals to increase that capacity.

I will set the Services' capability against the roles we have assigned them. I shall also mention the organisational changes which are still continuing in the defence structure which, I believe, are important in helping the Government to come to decisions in defence matters. Some of what I say will not be new but I feel it would be useful if the House could have as full a view as possible of our approach to defence policy.

Defence policies and the decisions we take to give effect to them must have meaning not only for the immediate present; they must also fit the situation that we assess will face us in the future. This task is not easy. There is a dynamic in the policies, the economic and the social changes of the countries of our region. The rapidity of technological and scientific development introduces yet another dimension. Yet if we are to take the right decisions, we must have a defence organisation which is equipped to analyse all the facts, and perceive as best it may what lies ahead.

My colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon), will, in the course of this session, be giving the House a survey of the international situation and of Australia's external policies. I shall confine myself to describing in brief terms the strategic setting against which the Government has made certain decisions and in the context of which we are elaborating our defence policies.

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