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Thursday, 4 June 1987
Page: 4062

(Question No. 5210)

Mr MacKellar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 20 March 1987:

(1) Further to his answer to question No. 4685 (Hansard, 18 November 1986, page 3365), has his attention been drawn to a recent statement by the U.S. Navy Secretary saying that the U.S. Navy was proceeding with plans to shift its Antarctic support operations from Christchurch to Hobart.

(2) Have there been any discussions between U.S. and Australian officials about this transfer; if so, is he able to say when such a transfer might be implemented and whether the U.S. facilities will be located at Hobart or an alternative location.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I believe the statement referred to in the first part of the honourable member's question was made by retiring U.S. Navy Secretary, John Lehman, on 2 April 1987. The statement appears to have been made in a private interview with a Radio New Zealand journalist, following an appearance by Mr Lehman before the National Press Club in Washington. Mr Lehman's personal views on this issue are well known, but do not reflect official U.S. Policy.

The United States Government has denied any suggestion that plans are being made to transfer the National Science Foundation's Polar Program logistical support activity from Christchurch to Hobart (or to any other location for that matter). Following the ANZUS talks in San Francisco last August, U.S. Secretary of State Shultz stated that he did not foresee a shift of the Antarctic facility away from Christchurch. The Government has not been advised of any change in the position of the United States Administration since that date.

(2) Former Navy Secretary Lehman and officials of his Department visited Australia in November and December last year. During that time a range of issues was discussed, including with Australian officials.

Operation Deep Freeze was discussed only informally and at no stage have United States officials requested Australia to consider hosting their Antarctic support facilities. The position of the United States Administration on this matter is as enunciated above by Secretary of State Shultz.