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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2343


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(12.16) —In answer to Senator Sanders's first question concerning Jervis Bay, I do not know when those papers will be available. If they are made available I will seek them from the Minister for Defence (Mr Beazley). I have no information on that here. Senator Sanders asked two questions about the FA18. The first one concerned fatigue cracks and the second concerned its close ground support role. The Minister put out a statement a couple of weeks ago about the fatigue cracks in the FA18. He also said in that statement, which Senator Sanders has not adverted to, that these problems are being addressed by the contractor at the expense of the contractor. So that matter is being dealt with. All sorts of planes have fatigue cracks, I dare say that Senator Sanders, being an expert, knows that.

I think what Senator Sanders was speaking about in the second part of his question was a comment by the Minister about the wisdom of exposing a plane of the expense of the FA18 in a ground attack role. As far as I know, and as far as the advisers here know, the Minister has not said that they will not be used in such a role. In fact Paul Dibb, in his review of the Department of Defence, is looking at this and other questions. The report of that review will be out early in the new year and this matter will be covered in it. If there have been further developments since the last comment I know of by the Minister on this I will seek the information and give it to Senator Sanders.