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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1416

Mr NICHOLLS (BONYTHON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. I preface the question by stating that a number of constituents have expressed great concern at the future employment opportunities at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury and Woomera in South Australia. Can the Minister inform the House as to the present and future operations of this important organisation, particularly as they affect the security and employment opportunities of all employees?

Mr BARNARD - The Weapons Research Estabishment at Salisbury and the Woomera range, which is associated with it, are both committed to programs of work concerned with approved Australian defence projects. In addition, the significant work load of the Establishment and the range is subject to a joint arrangement between the United Kingdom and the Australian Governments. This arrangement has now been extended to 1976. The joint project, which involves work for the Department of Defence, will proceed as planned. However it may be necessary foi some new direction in the work that is being undertaken at the joint establishment. The whole question of employment at Woomera is under consideration. Some retrenchments may be necessary but it is hoped that these will be effected as a result of normal wastage. The honourable member will recall that last week I met representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a request was put to me by them that no retrenchments should take place until the whole question had been further considered by Cabinet. When that has been carried out I will be in a position to advise the honourable member of any retrenchments that may have to be effected in this area.

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