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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3169

Senator ROBERT RAY —Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence seen the Press release issued on Monday by the Leader of the National Party of Australia and the Opposition spokesman on defence, Mr Ian Sinclair? I ask the Minister to comment on Mr Sinclair's observation when he said:

The South Australians have put all their eggs in the Swedish tenderer's basket and from the beginning the Germans have been the preferred tenderer.

It's odds-on that if this process continues the Germans will win and that the submarines will be built in New South Wales.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen the Press release, not unexpectedly, from Mr Sinclair which fully meets the standards that this Parliament and the people have come to expect of Press releases from George. It has virtually no factual basis and is obviously crafted to mislead. Contrary to Mr Sinclair's claim that South Australia is likely to lose the contract because it has concentrated exclusively on the Swedish bid, the highly professional South Australian bid for the submarine contract, made in circumstances which I described earlier in the week in answer to Senator Jessop, had involved vigorous wooing of both tenderers. Indeed, the workyard of Eglo Engineering Pty Ltd, the Australian partners of IKL-HDW, is situated in Adelaide and was toured last Sunday by the Minister for Defence, Mr Beazley. Thanks to the South Australian Government's efforts, South Australia has an excellent chance of building the Australian submarines no matter which of the two highly competitive contractors win. But, if anything, the connection between the German firm and South Australia is stronger than South Australia's links with the Swedes, because of the long-standing Eglo link with South Australia.

Mr Sinclair apparently knows so little about the submarine project and particularly about the vital Australian industrial aspects of it, that he does not even know which tenderers have teamed up with which Australian companies. His claim that New South Wales will win if South Australia does not seems to be a straightforward assumption on his part and one that, certainly among other things, takes no account of the sensitivities of Mr Burke on this subject.