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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 590

Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question to the Acting Leader of the Government as Minister representing the Minister.' for Supply refers to the publicity given to statements by the Minister for Supply about a consortium to run the Australian aircraft industry. Is it a fact that the Government has determined the organisational form of that consortium? Has the Government accepted in principle the absorption of Australia's efficient and long-established Government Aircraft Factories in a consortium to include foreign companies? If not, will the Minister give a clear indica- tion that the Government Aircraft Factories and their skilled work force will remain an important and foundational part of Australia's defence capacity, continuing under the control of the Australian Government and Parliament? Is the Minister able to indicate when these matters might be reported to the Parliament?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Firstly, I say to the honourable senator that it is the Government's policy to maintain a small but viable and effective defence aircraft industry. But, as in the case of its counterparts in the rest of the world, there has been an up and down trend or a waxing and waning in the work load of this industry. So, the Government decided that it would conduct a feasibility investigation of rationalisation of the aircraft industry. It sought the benefit of the experience of the Defence (Industrial) Committee, which investigated the matter and made a report to the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Supply. The two Ministers then had a meeting with this Committee which I was invited to attend, together with the head of my Department, because my Department had been associated with the investigations. That Committee made certain recommendations to the Minister for Defence, who submitted a report te Cabinet. The Minister for Supply has been given approval by the Government to take certain action which was outlined in his statement yesterday. I think that aH I can do is convey to the Minister for Supply what the honourable senator 'has said. If there is any further information that can be given, I will obtain it for the honourable senator.

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