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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2192

Senator MacGIBBON —My question is to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce. Has the Minister seen the Australian Financial Review article today in which the paper claims to have official validation of a cost in excess of $5,680m for the replacement of submarines? How does the Government reconcile this huge and indefensible cost of over $900m per boat, taking into account the all-in costs, with the cost of $200m for the lead boat in the British Upholder Class, which is technically both a safe-and I emphasise safe-design and a far more technologically advanced design than either the HDW-IKL or Kockums design? Is it correct that the Minister and his Department are outraged by the last-minute proposal from Kockums to build part of the first hull in Sweden?

Senator BUTTON —If I can deal with the last part of the question first. I suppose I lost the capacity for much outrage several years ago, having been in the Senate now for 12 years. So I am not outraged by a suggestion of that kind, and I do not believe that my Department is outraged. In answer to the other part of the question, I have not seen the article in the Australian Financial Review, but someone informed me of the broad contents of that article. At this stage the Government has not addressed the costings and so on of the submarine in detail as a government. When that process takes place I might be in a better position to comment on the suggestions made in the honourable senator's question.