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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1400

Mr JEFF BATE (MACARTHUR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for the Navy whether the calming down of the bombardment and shelling of Beecroft Head which has caused anxiety to the people of Currarong is a temporary relief or whether it will start again. I refer to the fact that the shells have been falling on this area, ricochetting at an angle of 45 degrees and travelling approximately 14 miles. I hope that the Minister can tell the House whether this bombardment will be reduced as soon as possible.

Dr MACKAY (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - For some time, representations have been made by the honourable member for Macarthur and other members interested in the area with regard to the naval bombardment range at Beecroft Head, which is shared for certain purposes with the Royal Australian Air Force. About IS years ago, an unfortunate incident occurred when some shells from a New Zealand cruiser went somewhat astray. This gave cause for alarm to the people in the township of Currarong. Since that time, no practice rounds have been fired that have fallen outside the boundary of the range. I am not sure of the ballistics - 45 degrees and the rest of it - that the honourable gentleman mentioned. But my experts assure me that no actual danger has resulted from these firings.

I am happy to be able to tell the honourable member that steps have been taken which mean that the nuisance caused by the noise factor has been contained. It will not continue in the way in which it has in the past. No further bombing will be carried out on the unique rock features on the coast. The hours of bombardment will be restricted so that bombardment will not occur in the sleeping hours of inhabitants. Indeed, some of the types of shells used have been looked at so that there will not be as many explosions as in the past. So the present happy conditions, on which we have received letters from Currarong congratulating us on the change, will continue.

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