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Thursday, 20 May 1993
Page: 958

Senator MAGUIRE —Mr President, my question is directed to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. Can the Minister inform the Senate of what actions the Defence Science and Technology Organisation is taking to support the Government's policy of strengthening relationships in the South East Asian region as a means of promoting regional security?

Senator FAULKNER —Mr President, I thank Senator Maguire for his interest in this particular matter. The DSTO is actively engaged in establishing and maintaining defence science links with our South East Asian neighbours and expects to strengthen these still further over the next period of time.

  In March 1993, the Secretary to the Department of Defence and the Permanent Secretary for Defence Development from the Republic of Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding covering defence science cooperation. Under the auspices of the memorandum of understanding, a joint project in the area of defence communications has commenced. Another joint project on jet engine modelling is being planned. Both of these projects will involve exchange of technical information and the posting of Singaporean engineers into DSTO laboratories. DSTO also expects to provide Singapore with scientific support on a fee for service basis.

  DSTO has a joint project in place with Malaysia to measure ship magnetism. The project so far has involved the attachment of a Malaysian scientist to DSTO for a period of three months, and the joint development of computer models. DSTO has, for many years, supported Malaysia through the posting of a defence science adviser to work with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence in Kuala Lumpur.

  DSTO interaction with Thailand has recently been quite extensive. Last year DSTO accepted an invitation to attend a defence research and development planning seminar in Bangkok. Earlier this year Australia hosted a follow-up seminar with key Thai defence officials who spent two weeks with DSTO discussing top down planning issues in defence and also defence science.

  A joint trial to investigate the effects of upper atmosphere changes on long-range radio transmissions is also planned for later in the year. DSTO has a defence scientific adviser posted to Bangkok to work directly with the Thai Ministry of Defence. Defence research links with Indonesia are at an early stage. DSTO participated last year in a major seminar on aerospace and shipbuilding activities in Indonesia.

  With Japan there are regular exchanges of unclassified defence science information. This link has developed over the past 12 months, but the Japanese constitution inhibits further defence science cooperation at this stage. DSTO is also planning a joint project with India on research into long-range adaptive radio systems.

  The Government views these examples of scientific cooperation as being a very important aspect of the developing partnership between Australia and our region. A cooperative yet measured exchange of science and technology by Australia with the countries in our region builds a clearer understanding of each country's ability to support its defence with advanced technology. I can assure Senator Maguire and other honourable senators that in doing so we are furthering a positive security environment in our region.