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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7532

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (19:31): I first congratulate the member for Bennelong for giving us the opportunity today to talk about the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy. We are all very proud of the Royal Australian Navy. No-one is more proud than the citizens of my electorate of Wentworth. Our nation was founded by naval servicemen in the 18th century—Captain Arthur Phillip was an officer in the Royal Navy and all of the leading figures in the early years of our colony in New South Wales were naval officers. The governor, after whom I am named but from whom I am not descended, William Bligh, was a very distinguished admiral noted for his very delicate interpersonal skills.

In the electorate of Wentworth there are a series of important naval establishments which have been there for many years. The Australian Navy is commanded from Fleet Base East at Garden Island, at HMAS Kuttabul, one of the several stone frigates in my electorate. That has been so since 1856, since the New South Wales government granted Garden Island—when it was genuinely an island—to the Royal Navy for use as a place to moor and provision warships. Since then, the land behind the headland of Potts Point and Garden Island has been filled in and a vast dockyard has been created. It is one of the leading naval bases in the Southern Hemisphere. And it is right in the centre of our city. It is a remarkable and wonderful thing. People often talk about the Navy moving somewhere else, but I think that it is wonderful thing to have that vast naval and military establishment right there on the doorstep of our city—only a few hundred metres from the CBD.

If you go further east in my electorate out to South Head, you have HMAS Watson, an important training establishment for the Navy. Indeed, until relatively recent decades there was another training establishment at Rushcutter's Bay, HMAS Rushcutter. Fleet Base East or Garden Island is the home for some very important vessels, not of the stone variety but of the floating variety, including three Anzac-class frigates, the Stuart,Parramatta, and Ballarat; four Adelaide-class frigates, the Sydney, Darwin, Melbourne and Newcastle; two amphibious vessels, Tobruk and Kanimbla; and the supply ship HMAS Success. This is an important assemblage of our naval armoury and it is a reminder that we are a maritime power—not the greatest maritime power in the world; that honour belongs to the United States of America. Nonetheless, as an island entirely dependent on the seaways for our trade it is vital that our Navy is strong and that the traditions of endurance, determination and above all valour are maintained in the years ahead. There is not a patch of land in the electorate of Wentworth that has not been touched by the Navy. Every headland has been, at one point, involved with naval operations. People walking along the bush track from Rose Bay around to Nielsen Parkwould think they are in a nice, rustic domain, but if they venture out onto Steele Point, just a few metres away from the track, they will find a big sandstone gun emplacement built in the 19th century with VRI—Victoria Regina Imperatrix—carved into the stone. This is one of so many gun emplacements across the headlands of Sydney Harbour—across most of the headlands in Wentworth in fact—designed to protect the ships of the Royal Navy within Sydney Harbour and of course to sink the ships of whatever navy, presumably the Russian navy, that was going to attack us.

The Royal Australian Navy is a matter of great pride to all Australians, and particularly the residents of Wentworth, because, truly, the Navy is part of the Australian family and, above all, part of our family in Wentworth.