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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3287

Mr JARMAN (DEAKIN, VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister for Defence: Why is the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney' being paid off and dismantled when it would have been ideally the most economical way to freight the Chinook helicopters from the US, as was originally intended, and also the most economical way to withdraw the Australian troops and equipment from Singapore? Apart from HMAS 'Melbourne' which as flagship of the Fleet is required for operational duties, what source of seagoing strategic mobility is now available to Australia which is not under the direct control of the communist-led Seamen's Union of Australia?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - A recommendation came to me from the Department of the Navy and the Department of Defence on whether HMAS 'Sydney' should undertake a refit which would involve the Department of Defence in the expenditure of more than $lm to extend the life of the 'Sydney' until 1974. It was to go out of commission in 1974 in normal circumstances. We were not prepared to authorise such a large expenditure to carry out a major refit for such a short period. Therefore the decision was quite properly taken that the 'Sydney' should no longer remain in service as a unit of the Royal Australian Navy. The latter part of the honourable gentleman's question concerned the availability of transport. This matter is now under review by the Department of the Navy. Whatever decision is made in relation to transport facilities will certainly be made known by the Government at the appropriate time.

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