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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 4013

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Housing and Minister for Works) - I move:

That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1973, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament:

Modernisation of H.M.A. Naval Dockyard (Stage 1) Williamstown, Victoria

The proposal involves the alterations and additions to existing buildings, demolition to make way for new construction, construction of a new unit assembly building complete with cranes, reconstruction of two slipways, including a new berth crane, and reconstruction of associated engineering services. The estimated cost of the proposed work when referred to the committee was $7. 6m.

The Committee concluded that there was a need for modernisation of the shipbuilding facilities at the Williamstown dockyard; that the sites selected for the proposed new facilities were suitable; and that the work should proceed to construction. This Government's decisions to review the Navy's destroyer replacement requirements and in the interim to allocate the construction of the oceanographic ship to Williamstown have made it possible - indeed prudent - to extend stage 1 of the dockyard modernisation by some 2 years. Thus, whilst the work content of this stage remains the same as that reported on by the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works, the completion date for stage 1 is now planned to be November 1977 instead of November 1975, as shown in paragraph 62 of the Committee's report.

In tabling the Committee's report last May, the Chairman expressed concern that ministerial approval had been given for the Department of Works to carry out the documentation of stage 1 before his Committee had examined the project. The view also was expressed that stages 1 and 2 should have been considered together rather than allowing stage 1 to preempt stage 2. However, at the time the proposal was referred to the Committee, planning was still proceeding on the destroyer program set by the previous Government while that program was being examined by this Government. In that context it was necessary to proceed with some detailed planning concurrently with the Committee's investigations. On the question of reference of stage 2 of the modernisation works to the Committee, Government approval has yet to be sought for the later stages of the project. Planning is only now proceeding sufficiently to seek that approval and reference to the Committee as appropriate. Upon the concurrence of the House in this motion, the project can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.

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