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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1753

Senator TATE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that Mr Peter Garrett, late of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, claimed at a peace rally in Hobart's Franklin Square on Palm Sunday weekend that in 1983, 19 United States Navy vessels visited Hobart, 12 being nuclear-powered attack vessels and seven being nuclear-powered missile cruisers? Is this accurate? Could this have happened unbeknown to the citizens of my home city? If not, does the Minister agree that it is vital in this area of public policy that truth not become a casualty in the contest for public support?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen the Press reports in which Mr Garrett made the claims that Senator Tate referred to. The short answer is that those claims are not accurate. Figures supplied by the Department of Defence show that only three nuclear-powered American warships visited Hobart in 1983, two of which were submarines. The 12 nuclear-powered attack vessels and seven nuclear-powered missile cruisers referred to by Mr Garrett could not, accordingly, have slipped into Hobart unbeknown to Australian authorities. As to the larger issue of visits by American nuclear warships, I draw the attention of the Senate to an answer I gave to a question on notice from Senator Chipp which is printed in the Senate Hansard of 8 May and does contain those statistics.