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Monday, 9 November 1964

Senator PALTRIDGE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Defence) - Answering the questions as the honorable senator asked them, I say that it is certainly not the concensus of opinion that the defences of Australia are in a weak condition. All who have sufficiently interested themselves to direct their minds to this matter are only too ready to concede that, as circumstances have changed over the years, so the Government's approach to the problem has changed. Its defence policy including its policy in relation to the provision of equipment has changed as circumstances have demanded. May I take the opportunity to tell Senator Brown that the flexible approoch to the whole problem of defence will be continued. Wc do not see defence as a problem which can be solved in the Socialist manner of working out a fixed plan and adhering to it. We acknowledge that circumstances alter both the degree and the ntaure of the defence effort which has to be made. We have directed our defence effort accordingly and will continue to do so.

The honorable senator asked whether Sir Leslie Morshead was the chairman of the committee which, some years ago, presented a report on the organisation of the forces. Yes, that is so. The committee reported to the Government. The report of the committee was of a completely confidential nature. It was made to the Government by a committee which the Government had appointed for the purpose of reporting to it. The report received the close consideration of the Government and, as a result many modifications of and alterations to, the Australian defence set up were made.

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