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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1721

Mr TURNER (BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does, the Minister for Defence propose to make a defence statement before the debate on the defence estimates or at all - a. statement as informative as the excellent and illuminating one made by his predecessor, the present Minister for Education and. Science, in March of last year? Does he regard the dramatic events leading to the further disengagement of our great and powerful friends from the eastern and South East Asian area and the strengthening of potentially hostile powers in the Indian Ocean area since the last statement was made as justifying complacency? Finally, can he say whether several series of articles on defence matters recently appearing in the Press were inspired by the Service departments themselves, by interested purveyors of equipment or by journalistic fancy? In any event, does he regard them as a sufficient substitute for a meaningful statement on Government, policy in this Parliament?

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) - The timetable on which 1 am working at the present time and which I hope I will be able to maintain is that during the next few weeks I will be bringing to the Cabinet a paper which Cabinet will have an opportunity of looking at and discussing, and subject to the views expressed I would hope shortly after then to be able to produce in the House a paper on defence. I can assure the honourable gentleman that I will do everything possible to see that the House is kept informed. We are expecting very shortly the defence report which has been in the hands of the printer for some time. I expect that it will be available to honourable members in the next few days. Of course, the defence estimates will also be coming up shortly for debate, and I will be making statements then, as I have spoken twice this week on matters pertaining to defence. But it will certainly be my intention and that of the Government to keep the House as closely informed on matters of defence as we possibly can.

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