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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2387

Senator MacGIBBON(5.44) —These estimates deal with the provision of funds for the project definition study for the replacement submarine for the Royal Australian Navy. The original estimate was for $26m and that has now blown out to $32m. Is there an end point on the project definition study funding? Has it a definite upper limit or will it just go on as the study team wishes?

Senator Button —It is expected that the present funding will be adequate.

Senator MacGIBBON —I thank the Minister for the non-answer. My next question is: What controls will Australia have on the technology that is developed through the project definition study? By way of information I would say that it was one of the fundamental points of the contract or the selection of the new submarine that it not be a paper boat, that it be a design either in service or coming into service very soon with an established navy. The Royal Australian Navy, for reasons of its own, broke that clause of the contract and thereby earned itself considerable disfavour among tendering companies. We are now in the position where the Australian taxpayer is to put $32m into an attempt to make sure that a paper design works. In the process a whole lot of new technology has to be developed and it will be developed for the Germans through HDW-IKL or for the Swedes by Kockums in order to make these two designs work. In view of the meagre amount of money that the Government puts into industrial research and design in Australia and the meagre amount it contributes to military research and design through the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, I ask: What procedures is it taking here to ensure that the spending of $32m of the Australian taxpayers' money is of benefit to the Australian nation and not a free transfer of technology to two firms-one a private firm in Germany and the other a government-owned firm in Sweden?