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Thursday, 29 May 1969

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) - I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of his assurance to the Senate that the Fill aircraft would be accepted by Australia only when it was capable of fulfilling the role for which it was purchased, has anybody up to this stage spelt out the rok for which this aircraft is being purchased? Will the Minister tell us what that role is? Is it not a reasonable proposition that Australia can opt out on any of many considerations as to the adequacy of the aircraft to fulfil the role for which it is being purchased?

Senator ANDERSON - I am not going into a dissertation at question time on the role of the Fill. The Service requirement was stated at the time by the Royal Australian Air Force. That is the starting point for the acquisition of any aircraft. It has been made abundantly clear, in a debate in the other place yesterday and in the statement made by the Prime Minister, which is on the record of the Senate, that the Fill will be accepted by Australia when Australia is satisfied that it conforms to our stated requirements. It also has been made clear that a period of 16,000 hours of testing is to be carried out. It is expected that this will mean that acquisition of the aircraft may take place at the end of the year. This attack by the Opposition is not original. I know that the Senate proceedings are being broadcast. I know it is good fun to blow all this up. Honourable senators opposite know this too. If they face up to it they will know that what they are doing is to blatantly play politics. The Australian public also knows that this is what they are doing.


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