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Monday, 7 February 1994
Page: 476


Senator ROBERT RAY (Minister for Defence) (5.41 p.m.) —I thank both speakers for their support of the Australian Space Council Bill. I will not comment on Senator Ian Macdonald's ungracious remarks at the start of his speech. He soon warmed to the subject. I do not know why I have the short straw of having to listen to him on two successive bills, but I guess I am just lucky.

  I note Senator Macdonald's and Senator Coulter's remarks on the Scramjet. If I am right I have seen its prototype of it at the North Queensland Shipyards. It is quite exciting, certainly for the next generation of politicians who will be able to get to London in an hour for a CPA conference. It will be of enormous benefit in the future.

  Senator Macdonald mentioned that the Liberal Party had a policy—which it has now suspended—on this at the last election. That is true to form. I was most surprised and delighted to hear him say that he had an open mind on this subject. I think that development should be at least marked and noted for the record. I congratulate Senator Macdonald on having an open mind.

  Senator Coulter also supported the proposal. I think Senator Coulter at one stage described himself as the James T. Kirk of the Australian Democrats. I will not make any remarks on the next generation of that. This will not be an easy area to break into; I do not think anyone has any illusions about that. Senator Coulter remarked on the potential use of Woomera into the future. Certainly that has been looked at on several occasions. I hope it is looked at again, for I do not think the Nurrungar base will be there forever. I doubt it will be there at the end of this century. Therefore, developing alternative uses for what are quite good facilities at Woomera, be they of this nature or other scientific natures, I think will be of great benefit in future. So, very peripherally, as Minister for Defence, and having an interest in Woomera and the current purposes that basically exist, I would be delighted to see alternative uses so that the township remains viable and can continue in the future. I thank honourable senators for their support of the bill.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.