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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 2281

Mr BURY (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for Defence yet considered any alternative plan for re-equipping the Royal Australian Navy, other than through the DDL project for which preliminary plans have already been prepared and announced in the House? Has he given any instructions for the study of alternative designs to bring the cost per unit within the realistic financial compass of Australia so that the numbers required can be built?

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) - During the last few months a considerable amount of work has been done by both the Royal Australian Navy and my Department in assessing various alternatives. We have looked at the alternatives in regard to size, purchase overseas as against local manufacture and purchases of overseas designs and local manufacture, either in the Navy dockyard at Williamstown or in one of the private dockyards. Within the next few weeks I hope to be in a position to bring to Cabinet a paper on this subject setting out the views of the Defence Forces Development Committee. Until a decision is made it will not be possible, of course, to say what the decision will be.

The honourable member said that the cost of the so-called DDLs was not realistic for Australia. I know it is a high figure but it is a cost which would be spread over a number of years. If we require defence we have to face the fact that large expenditures are necessary. We have taken this approach with other equipment and I believe it would be possible to do it in this case. At present we have 12-

Mr Calwell - Would the Minister please address the intelligensia. He is turning away.

Mr FAIRBAIRN - I am sorry. We have in the Navy at present 12 destroyers and at least three - possibly more - of those will need to be replaced in the next 10 years. So a decision in this respect will be made by the Government at the same time as it makes an overall decision on the S-year rolling programme.

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