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Thursday, 14 March 1968

Mr STEWART (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Prime Minister whether he was Minister for the Navy from December 1958 to December 1963. Did the 'Voyager' disaster occur only 2 months after he had relinquished this portfolio? Have two royal commissions since then highlighted the breakdown in Navy discipline, training, honour and standards? Has the Minister for the Navy been dismissed from the Ministry following each of these royal commissions? As their dismissal is being interpreted as an indication that they are being held responsible for the failure of Navy administration, how is it that the Prime Minister, as Minister for the Navy during the period under investigation by the royal commissions, has escaped scot free? Does he still maintain as he did in the Senate on 23rd September 1964, according to page 695 of Hansard, that the only thing in the whole affair for which he would accept blame was the appointment of Mr Smyth Q.C. as counsel assisting the commission? Does he consider that the humiliation of Messrs Cabban, Chaney and Chipp will restore the efficiency, discipline and standards of the Navy to their former level?

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