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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2347

Mr BUCHANAN (MCMILLAN, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Have nuclear submarines been seen recently among Russian naval vessels in Australian waters? What is the purpose of the presence of this fleet? If we cannot afford to equip our navy with nuclear propelled vessels, what steps can we take against this thinly veiled threat to our interests?

Dr MACKAY (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Undoubtedly, there is world concern at the Russian presence in the Indian Ocean. This is evidenced perhaps by what 'Jane's Fighting Ships' said in its foreword, namely, that 5 years ago there were no Russian warships in this ocean but today there are more than a score of surface warships and an unknown number of submarines. It would not, I think, be proper to disclose the information that we have on actual types of ships. It has been announced only today that the United Kingdom has stepped up its construction programme to deal with this growing threat. We in Australia do not have immediate plans for nuclear propelled vessels, but installations . such as the Cockburn Sound facility will eventually be able to service nuclear powered vessels. This reminds us that as a small nation we do rely very greatly on the ANZUS Treaty to provide the kind of deterrent against the aggression that the honourable member obviously fears.

Dr Gun - ANZUS - in the Indian Ocean?

Dr MACKAY - I would have thought that this might have been of some importance to the nation and to the honourable member. Finally, I would say this: We do from time to time have sophisticated warships from the United Kingdom and the United States visiting our shores. These are undoubtedly welcomed by the Navy because they remind us of the umbrella that ANZUS affords us in this whole field.

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