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Australia should examine the nuclear naval option



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PETER WH TE Μ PFederal Member for McPhersonSHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE-MEDIA RELEASECOMMONW EALTH | PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY I ---- £·ÏŠ* . -JD l / 8 8 7th January 1987AUSTRALIA SHOULD EXAMINE THE NUCLEAR NAVAL· OPTION"Australia should immediately examine the option of acquiring nuclear powered naval vessels and particularly nuclear powered submarines. We should know just what are their capabilities and their costs and what infrastructure is required to support nuclear vessels."OUR DECREASING NAVAL CAPACITY CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO . CONTINUE. THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT INDIA HAS NOW ACQUIRED A NUCLEAR SUBMARINE ONLY EMPHASIZES HOW FAR AUSTRALIA IS FALLING BEHIND IN THE REGION AND IN ITS ABILITY TO PROTECT OUR TERRITORIES AND OUR SEA LANES," PETER WHITE, THE SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE SAID TODAY. ."Recent criticisms of Australia's naval capacity by the Company of Master Mariners of Australia has highlighted yet again the weakness of our naval forces."An examination of the option to acquired nuclear powered naval ships is not in itself a commitment to purchase or build them. It simply puts us in a better position to make a decision. -"There is no doubt that the range and speed of nuclear submarines puts them in a class of their own. They confer great advantages on a country that has them, and no country can afford to ignore the nuclear naval option in the longer term."Thirty years ago, Australia had more than thirty fighting ships. Today we have but twelve, some of which are approaching thirty years of age."We have lost our aircraft carrier and we only have one military transport vessel. The new Anzac destroyers, if and when they are eventually built, will only replace existing ships."No country with 12,000 miles of coastline, dependent on merchant shipping for its trading existance, and with an extremely limited naval and air force capability, can afford to . ignore the nuclear option.. Let the leftwing unions and the leftwing faction of theLabor Party shout all they like about nuclear power. Do we hear them questioning, the Indians about their nuclear acquisition?. . . Z2For further information — Gold Coast (075) 50 1199 — Canberra (062) 72 7538

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What the leftwing should be doing is asking why a country like India with all its economic problems and its millions of poor, is acquiring the latest Soviet aircraft and Soviet nuclear submarine.

If the Leftwing can find the answer to those questions they would be doing Australia a useful service.

The Government will no doubt pussyfoot around this nuclear option but in the interest of Australia's security an examination of this option should not be put off any longer.

Ends. Contact Peter White (075) 324327