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Friday, 21 June 1946

Mr Francis s asked the Acting Minister for Air, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that at the Royal Australian Air Force police head-quarters, Darling' Point, Sydney, as many as twenty men had been crowded into three 10-ft. by 8-ft. cells?

2.   Is it a fact that the cells are not fitfor human beings, and were condemned as unsuitable for the detention of prisoners more than two years ago?

3.   If so, what step is he taking to remedy these conditions?

Mr Makin - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   No. The greatest number of personnel ever held at one time in detention at the Service Police Unit, Darling Point, was thirteen in June, 1944, the average number held there between the 1st July, 1943, and the 15th June, 1946, approximating six personnel. During that period four cellswere available, their dimensions being - two cells - 7 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft. 9 in. - height of walls 9 ft; one cell - 8 ft. by 11 ft. 8 in.- height of walls 9 ft; 1 cell- 14 ft. by 8 ft. 10 in.- height of walls 9 ft.

2.   No. Those cells have never been condemned as unsuitable for detention of prisoners.. Royal Australian Air Force medical authorities have reported that the existing accommodation is quite satisfactory, hygienic, and suitable for. use as detention quarters, the floors are wooden and not concrete, while adequate ventilation and heating facilities are provided. 3, See replies to questions 1 and 2.

Mr Langtry (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) y asked the Acting Minister for Air, upon notice -

1.   Who was responsible for the orders given to fly nine aeroplanes from Morotai to Darwin early this year?

2.   ls it a fact that eight of these aeroplanes, together with their crews, were lost!

3.   If so, what action has he taken to have this matter thoroughly investigated and the officers responsible suitably dealt with?

Mr Makin - The answers to the honorable member's, questions are as follows : -

1.   As hundreds of Royal Australian Air Force aircraft have been flown between Morotai and' Darwin this year, it is not clear to which nine aeroplanes this question specifically refers.

2.   No.No service aeroplanes have been lost between Morotai and Darwin this year. 3: See replies to questions Nos. 1 and 2.

Mr Francis s asked the Acting Minister for Air, upon notice -

1.   Is the Royal Australian Air Force Air Armament School to be set up atEast Sale, Victoria ?

2.   What are the advantages of this selection over Amberley?

3.   Is it a fact that Amberley has hangars large enough for Liberators and other large aircraft, as' well as adequate servicing and armament equipment, whereas East Sale has not?

4.   Are the climate and training records' at Amberley far more favorable than those of East Sale?

5.   Is Amberley a permanent station with good building's for lectures and for use as barracks? 6; Has Amberley suitable bombing and gunnery ranges and adequate landing strips?

7.   Will the Government reconsider the location of the Royal Australian Air Force Air Armament School at East Sale in view of the facilities available at Amberley?

Mr Makin - The answers to the nonorable . member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Yes, as it is the most suitable site avail- able for such an establishment. 2. (a) It is already planned to base a H/B. Wing . at Amberley. (b ) Considerations of efficiency and economy' make it desirable that the Air. Armament School form a part of a Royal Australian Air Force station on which . is also based a H/B. Conversion Unit, Fighter Conversion Unit and the Air Navigation ' School, (c) It is essential for such a specialist school to be located as near as possible to Royal Australian Air Force Head-quarters because it is through such a Bchool that new armament equipment is introduced into the service, (d) Climate at East Sale offers a variety of weathers, which is. essential for advanced flying training, (e) Amberley cannot accommodate both H/B. Wing and Air Armament School and the H/B. Wing is planned to be located there for strategic reasons. (/) For reasons of economy of control it is planned to administer all training units from Southern Area. (g) The best ranges for bombing and gunnery practices are already availablein the Sale area. Sea areas and waste-land are being utilized. Those facilities arc not available in Amberley area. Special type gunnery range for turret gunnery training is installedat East Sale. The cost of transfer of this range to Amberley would alone approximate £25,000.

3.   Amberley has hangars large enough for Liberators and other large aircraft. Hangars at East Sale are not sufficiently large to house riiberatnrs, but armament equipment at East Sale is more suitable than that available at Amberley.

4.   The climate at East Sale is very suitable for advanced training. It is undesirable to have an unlimited amount of fine weather as pupils would become experienced only in these conditions. It is essential that pupils be trained to operate in variable weather.

5.   Yes, and it is being utilized by basing a H/B. Wing there. East Sale station was originally constructed for training purposes and has better lecture room facilities than Amberley. 6. (a) Ranges in Amberley' area are not suitable for the use of all types of ammunition intended to be used for training in the postwar air force. No suitable site for a rocket range exists in the Amberley area, (b) Distances between ranges and Amberley are great and for economy it is essential that ranges be close to training unit. (c) It is considered tobe impossible tolocate a radar bombing area near Amberley. These facilities are either in existence at East Sale or can be made ready with a -minimum of cost and labour.

7.   Before talcing decision to establish the Armament School at East Sale! the suitability and adaptability of other Royal Australian Air Force stations (including Amberley) foT such purposes were fully examined. In view of the reasons given in Nos. 1 to 6, East Sale was finally selected as the most suitable from all view-points (including administrative, training, economy, and the existing facilities available).

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