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Wednesday, 20 May 1970

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) -The assumption in the last part of the honourable gentleman's question is not quite correct. In answer to a question asked a short while ago I mentioned the sum which the Government is providing for the development of a twin engine light aircraft - project N - for which it is hoped there will be a considerable requirement not only for the Services but also in commercial sales in Australia and possibly overseas. But it will be up to the local aircraft industry to demonstrate that with the funds made available it can build prototypes. Funds have been provided for 2 prototypes to meet requirements for a good aircraft. It is true that the approach that has been adopted to support the aircraft industry in this sense is a modest one but when you arc starting a design from scratch it is reasonable to adopt this approach. When you come to the matter of a supersonic swing-wing advanced trainer and ground attack aircraft which had been under, I think, very preliminary design at Fishermen's Bend, you enter a different area altogether. As this House is only too well aware, there have been considerable problems with swing-wing designed aircraft. I think it was ambitious to suggest that with the resources available to us Australia might be able to undertake a project of this kind and do it in a way that would meet Royal Australian Air Force requirements.

One of the things honourable members should bear in m nd when talking about top flight aircraft for the RAAF is that such aircraft must be the best of their kind if they are to provide the Air Force with the best possible capability for the role that is being filled. It is quite a different matter if you are providing trucks for the Army. You can get somebody else's trucks. If your own are not the best available, they will probably do the job just as well. In the air it is much more important to have the best. Just because an aircraft happens to be designed in Australia or designed in part in Australia is not of itself an argument for the RAAF to purchase that aircraft if it will not fulfil the role as we would wish. I would like to mention one other point, and I do not want to be held to ransom over these figures-

Mr Uren - I rise to order. Might I suggest that the one other point be made by way of a statement after question time, because it is inappropriate to make it at question time.

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