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Tuesday, 4 May 1971

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - Replying first to Senator Cavanagh, I do not have the information available to me here. I will have to obtain that information and supply it to him at a later date. Senator Keeffe referred to compensation for personal injury and damage to property, which is dealt with in item 08 of Division 694. This arises from a court action which is pending. I have endeavoured to give as much information as possible at this stage without going into details, and I am afraid that at this stage I cannot give any further information. We have been advised by our legal advisers that a case is coming up and we have to provide for it. That is as far as I can take this matter.

The honourable senator sought information with respect to division 702, which relates to the purchase, manufacture and lease of aircraft and associated initial equipment. I mention first that we have lease charges for 24 Phantom aircraft and that the total cost of that project is S 16.986m. We are seeking $3.417m in the 1970-71 financial year, and because no amount was provided this involves an increased appropriation of $3.417m. The next item involves 97 Macchi aircraft in respect of which the total project cost is $70.6m. The Budget estimate was $5.354m and the new estimate is $6.873m, involving an increase of $1.5 19m. In respect of the 110 Mirages, the total project cost is S270m plus interest. The Budget estimate was $12.618m and the new estimate is

S13.01m, an increase of $.392m. For the 6 Mirage 11 IDs the total project cost is $ 11.242m. In respect of this item there was no Budget estimate, but in the Additional Estimates $700,000 is sought. For 2 replacement helicopters the total project cost is $560,000. The Budget estimate was $560,000 and no additional appropriation was sought, so this involves a decrease of $560,000 because that money has not been spent. The total project cost for a further replacement aircraft is $ 1.024m; the Budget estimate was $ 1.024m. There was no additional estimate sought, so there is no increase or decrease on that item. That is the way in which the expenditure on this project was made up.

Senator KEEFFE(Queensland (4.5) - I still seek a little more information from the Minister in relation to division 694, item 08, which has now become famous. The Minister has said that he cannot discuss it because of legal implications or complications. I ask him whether he is able to indicate the names of the principals involved, the date on which the alleged happening took place and when the court hearing is likely to take place. I am sure that I am not infringing on legal grounds in any way. I think my friend Senator Wright would rule that I am not breaking any legal principles by simply asking for bare facts.

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