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Thursday, 11 October 1973
Page: 1934


Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence and is supplementary to the question asked of him by my colleague the honourable member for Barker. The honourable gentleman will be aware of the very serious concern throughout the Defence Services about the marked cutback that has taken place in training activities. Will the honourable gentleman now answer the question from the honourable member for Barker, which he has so far avoided: Will he provide full details of the extent to which the training activities of the 3 Services have been subject to so marked a reduction? Further, in the context of the reduction in the training activity of the Defence Services, is he aware that his reported decision to provide Royal Australian Air Force assistance to the world gliding championships is deeply resented by senior officers as a political misuse of the RAAF? Is he aware that his decision is reported likely to cost between $200,000 and $300,000, that it will lead to a serious disruption to pilot training at Point Cook for more than a month, and will involve some 15 aircraft and 40 to 50 pilots? Will the honourable gentleman provide the details on which his decision on this question was based and assure this House that his decision was not in fact motivated by political considerations?


Mr BARNARD - In reply to the first part of the question, I indicated to the honourable member for Barker that the matter of cutbacks and a reduction in training activities was still under review. No final decision has been made. Some decisions have been made in relation to a reduction in flying time and also in relation to the sailing time of Royal Australian Navy vessels. These decisions have been made but they are subject to review and indeed they will be reviewed. As soon as I am in a position to provide for the honourable member more precise details of the decisions that have been made and of any review that may be made in relation to these matters I will let the honourable member, and indeed the House, have the information.

The second part of the question related to the world gliding championships. This matter was brought to my attention. A request was made for the Department of Air to provide facilities which would enable the world gliding championships to take place in this country. The first representation was considered by me in conjunction with the Chief of the Air- Staff. At that time it was considered that there were certain difficulties which would prohibit participation by the Royal Australian Air Force in the world gliding championships. This related more particularly to the problems of the Winjeel trainer aircraft. Following that decision I indicated, as a result of the information conveyed to me by the Chief of the Air Staff, that it would in all probability be impracticable for the Royal Australian Air Force to assist. However, I indicated that the Army would provide certain catering facilities.

Naturally, the Government regards the world gliding contest being held in this country as very important in terms of public relations. Certainly as far as my colleague the Minister for Tourism and Recreation is concerned, it is a most important event. That information having been conveyed to the people concerned, subsequent representations were made not only from honourable members on the Government side but also, as I understand it, from members of the Opposition. Further information came to me and to the Department of Air from people who I believe were competent to offer some advice as to how the difficulties that had initially been experienced might be overcome. As a result of that, I arranged further consultations with the Chief of the Air Staff and with experts from the world glider championship organisation. Subsequently it was found that the difficulties which initially had been proposed and accepted by the Department of Air could be overcome. No final decision has yet been made. There will be further discussions between the Chief of the Air Staff and the people concerned and I am hopeful that we will be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion by which the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Air Force will be able to participate in what we regard as a major event in Australia, one in which I think most Australian people would want the Australian Government to co-operate and participate.







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