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Tuesday, 7 December 1971
Page: 4134

Mr LUCOCK (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. I preface it by saying that while I have an appreciation of the many problems confronting the Royal Australian Navy concerning numerical capacity, taking into consideration the position of Russian entry into the Indian Ocean and Chinese infiltration in certain areas in Africa, I ask: As the Royal Navy is co-operating in combined exercises with the South African Navy, could consideration be given to the Royal Australian Navy joining in these combined exercises?

Dr MACKAY (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I am glad the honourable member has drawn attention to the-

Dr Klugman - It comes as a surprise to you?

Dr MACKAY - I assure the honourable member that this is not a Dorothy Dixer. I am glad that the honourable member has drawn attention to the demands being made on the relatively small Royal Australian Navy. Until recently we had a ship continuously in Vietnam waters. We are required to provide ships for the ANZUK force from time to time. Recently we took part, most successfully from the point of view of the Australian equipment and performance, in the Rimpak exercise based on Honolulu. We have also from time to time taken part in SEATO exercises and other exercises and also not long ago in an exercise in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia, which was given the name 'Swan Lake'. The South African area is, of course, a very distant area from our point of view although about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the shipping coming to Australia uses the Cape route. For this reason it is important that this area should be in friendly and co-operative hands. As to co-operation in exercises at that distance, I think this is a question which is quite upstream having in view the size of our forces and the availability of ships.

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