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Monday, 16 November 1964

Senator HENTY (TASMANIA) (Minister for Civil Aviation) - The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies -

1.   Yes and yes.

2.   When required, yes.

3.   Victorian State Harbour Authority records show: (a) The member for Batman (Mr. Benson) was a fully licensed sea pilot between 1949 and 1962; and (b) Mr. Benson was on at least one occasion pilot of an American destroyer which was visiting Port Phillip Bay. (Question No. 337.)

Senator MURPHY(through Senator

Poke) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -

1.   Is the plane guard exercise performed when aircraft are being flown on and off aircraft carriers going into Port Phillip?

2.   Has not the member for Batman (Mr. Benson) in the House of Representatives acted as pilot in charge of the plane guard destroyer on some occasions of such exercise?

Senator HENTY - The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies -

1.   Aircraft would not be flown on and off an aircraft carrier whilst going into Port Phillip Bay. They can be flown on and off whilst an aircraft carrier is in the unrestricted area once inside Port Phillip Bay, and occasionally this has been done. In daylight in recent years the rescue role has been performed by the helicopters, and a plane guard frigate or destroyer is therefore not necessary, but this role could be assumed for training.

2.   The member for Batman (Mr. Benson) has not acted as pilot in charge of a plane guard destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy during flying operations. The Department of the Navy does not keep records of the names of pilots used by ships of other navies, nor does it record details of manoeuvres of such ships. Inquiries have been made of the Victorian State Harbour Authorities, but no record to support an affirmative answer has been produced. However, if precise details of the occasions could be furnished to me I would be pleased to make further inquiries.

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