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Wednesday, 14 October 1964

Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) .- I refer to Division No. 169- Antarctic Division. I have referred to this division in every debate on the Estimates since I became a senator because seven years ago I learned that we were paying hiring charges for an Antarctic ship. I believe that in the first two years we were paying rental for two ships. At that time, the responsible Minister would tell me that we could not build these Antarctic ships'1 in Australia. He said they were of a special type and there were many reasons why they could not be built in Australia.

At a conservative estimate, we have been paying about ?200,000 a year for. rental of a ship and I am not certain that there were not two ships for which we paid for several years. In any case, there has been one ship for which we paid a rental of about ?200,000 a year for seven years. That is a total of about ?1,400,000.- rental for a ship to carry out our work in the Antarctic. That would probably be. enough money to build two ships of that size. I suppose that because of our geographical position we are likely to be permanently interested in the Antarctic as are other nations. Surely we are not going to continue permanently to pay out rental for a ship. There has to be added all the other expenses incurred in relation to the payment of personnel. 1 ask the Minister whether we have not arrived at the stage when we can decide that if we are to take part permanently in this work in Antarctica we should build our own ship and employ an Australian crew. We should train our own crew, because I understand that when you hire a foreign ship you must employ a foreign crew. I repeat that £1,400,000, the amount paid in rental over the period to which I refer, would build a very fine ship for voyages to Antarctica. If we did not have seven years ago the requisite experience in our shipyards to build such a vessel, it seems to me that the Government should have been studying this problem over the years. I would like to hear the Minister's view on this matter.

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