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Wednesday, 16 February 1977


Dr JENKINS (Scullin) - I did not intend to enter the debate on this Bill. I make it quite clear that the Opposition has supported the measure put forward by the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). This was indicated earlier in the debate by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who made a succinct and valuable contribution to the debate. However, Government speakers have raised some matters on this measure which I think require a reply. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) referred to a speaking list. I have already answered that. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) made a plea for Orions to be sent to Tasmania for surveillance purposes. He spoke for some time on this matter. Since he was permitted to raise the matter I would like to ask whether reasons can be given for that plea. After all we are looking at the question of the most efficient use for the Orions which are long-range surveillance aircraft. When one looks in other fields where the Royal Australian Air Force is called upon to supply a capability one realises that the adoption of that suggestion would not result in the aircraft being used in the most effective way. In dealing with surveillance, smuggling and so on often the response time is rather short.

The Minister for Defence when introducing the Bill suggested that the changes are being made following a request by the Chief of Air Staff because confusion is occurring. I remind Government supporters that when they use these sorts of tactics to detract from the procedures of the House other problems arise. If I took the honourable member for St George (Mr Neil) seriously he was saying that the changes are necessary to prevent confusion amongst tenderers and contractors. It is my belief that such tenderers and contractors would naturally be looking for advertisements and other means by which tenders and contracts for services required are made public. They would well know where to send for contract and tender documents and how to make a submission. I accept the suggestion as a reasonable proposition for the sake of clarity, but one wonders why it was made. It appears we have to have this clarification with the Air Office and the Defence Instructions. One might well say that we need to have the same alteration for the Chief of Air Staff so that his title can be changed to the Chief of Air Force Staff. None of us really confuses reference to ' air ' in that context with the field of civil aviation. The Minister in introducing the Bill said that it was not the sort of bill which would cause tumult throughout the country. It has caused some tumult in the House. I believe an attempt has been made to abuse the procedures of the House while restricting debates on previous Bills when members of the Opposition had something of real value to contribute.







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