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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3050

Mr CAMPBELL —Is the Minister for Defence aware that a prototype boat designated the P150 is being demonstrated to countries in the South Pacific as a contender for the patrol boat program for these nations, as announced by the Government? Does this promotional tour, organised by Mr Kailis from Perth, have any Government support? Is it true that after careful consideration the specifications for these boats were for steel hulled vessels? Does this mean that Mr Kailis's P150 is not eligible on the ground that it is made of fibreglass or does the Government intend to vary the terms of this contract?

Mr SCHOLES —I am aware of the tour of the Pacific by the P150. It is engaged in commercial activity designed to market the vessel in that area. I have, incidentally, visited the ship builders at the request of the local member, the Minister for Finance.

The specifications for the Pacific patrol boat required that the boat be simple to maintain so that recipient countries may undertake the necessary maintenance work. These specifications were drawn up in consultation with Pacific nations which have indicated an interest. There is, of course, no limit on the number of companies which may seek to obtain these contracts. In fact, some 25 or 26 companies have indicated interest, and competitive tendering is currently under way.

With regard to whether the P150 is eligible for consideration, it would be necessary, with a hull other than a steel hull, for it to be demonstrated that the technology required for maintenance is readily available in those areas where the vessels will be expected to operate and that a change in the structure of the vessel would not disadvantage the recipient nations. It is our intention under this program, in co-operation with those nations which expressed an interest, to ensure that the vessel which is chosen will be acceptable to the recipients who will own and operate it.