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Wednesday, 10 November 1971
Page: 3227

Mr WEBB (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I address a question to the Minister for the Navy. Was it announced in 1970 that there was a 5-year construction plan for naval support facilities at Cockburn Sound? Will he advise what its naval capacity will be when the proposed construction is completed? Is it not correct that, as originally announced, it would have very limited naval capacity? Has he noticed that the Prime Minister is referring to these naval support facilities as a naval base? Will the Minister state whether it is intended to extend these naval support facilities into a base as advocated by speakers from both sides of this House?

Dr MACKAY (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I have, I think, clarified this question previously. The base at Cockburn Sound is being prepared in a preliminary stage to be a support facility for up to 12 months for submarines and destroyers. At present conversations are proceeding with regard to the specific number of each that would be allocated for permanent occupation - that is 12 months or longer - of this facility. This is, however, a facility that we see as being increasingly important and significant in the light of strategic requirements and developments in that area. There have been expressions of interest in the base by Americans whose top admirals have paid visits to the area. The United Kingdom, of course, has been interested since Captain Stirling, after whom it is named, first described it as a very important site for naval strategy in the whole of this area and the Indian Ocean. It will be developed progressively in accordance with the needs of the day and, speaking personally, I believe it will become, in the future, one of the key naval bases of the Australian continent.

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