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Friday, 30 October 1970

Mr SPEAKER - 1 suggest the honourable member for Hunter might get back to the subject under discussion. The Bill does not cover the whole defence subject or matters of external affairs; it relates to a recommendation of the Public Works Committee.

Mr JAMES - I am just making a passing reference. I respect your ruling, Mr Speaker, but deep in your heart you must appreciate that what I am saying is true. However, the Cockburn Sound project is one which I believe the Australian people want and for that reason I support it. I hope this proposed naval facility will never be used in human conflict. I hope it is never used as a target by our enemy - if ever there is one - with the possibility of the blood of the people of Perth being spilt. Expert evidence given before the Public Works Committee showed that the people of Perth would be affected by a nuclear attack on the naval base at Cockburn Sound.

The Australian Labor Party has also put forward the suggestion that as the Government believes in forward defence the naval facility to be established at Cockburn Sound might instead be provided at one of the islands under the control of this Government such as Cocos Island. If the Government was consistent in its belief in forward defence and in the maintenance of a strategic military force in Malaysia then there is a powerful argument for the setting up of this naval base at Cocos Island so that the great populace of Perth would never suffer in the event of a nuclear attack upon the base - and may we hope that this never occurs. It is true that this Garden Island is a paradise for man. It is true that to create this naval base further to the north on the vast coast of Western Australia would involve tidal problems. Although my knowledge of the coast of Western Australia is limited, Cockburn Sound would appear to be the appropriate place for tidal reasons. I support the recommendation made by the Public Works Committee to the Parliament, but may the base be used only as a deterent to an enemy and never be used in human conflict.

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