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Wednesday, 28 March 1973
Page: 773


Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to an article in this morning's Brisbane 'CourierMail' which again raises the hardy old rumour of the impending closure of the Evans Deakin shipyard at Kangaroo Point. Will the Minister affirm the Government's policy to ensure the long term stability of the Australian shipbuilding industry and also assure honourable members that the Government will do an within its power to guarantee immediate continuity of work at the Evans Deakin shipyard, contrary to the attitude of the last Government, which failed to do this?


Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) - I have not seen the article in Hie 'Courier-Mail' referred to by the honourable member for Bowman but 1 am aware of the problems associated with the Australian shipbuilding industry which, I believe, would have closed down if there had not been a change of government. When I took office as the Minister for Transport, I was placed in the most unfortunate position of finding that there was only one ship to be allocated - a sea coaster for the Australian National Line. On top of that a rig for the Santa Fe company was to be allocated to an Australian shipyard, but there were distinct 11110/73- il - PO] problems associated with that rig. Since we came to office we have given an undertaking to the Santa Fe company and to Evans Deakin, which was the lowest tenderer for the rig, that the Government would be prepared to pay a 45 per cent subsidy on the building of the rig.

A further problem was handed to us in connection with the rig, that is, whether work would be available for it when it was completed. We were faced with the question of being prepared to pay a subsidy for the building of a ship or a rig which was to be exported. As a result of a decision made recently by the Cabinet, the Government has given the Santa Fe drilling company an assurance that, if the rig is built in Australia and on completion is held on the coast for a reasonable time, no attempt will be made by the Government to recapture the subsidy on the building of the rig. This in itself should ensure continuity of employment at the Evans Deakin shipyard for some time, at least until the Government can get orders for the building of ships in Australian yards moving again. What I have done further to guarantee work for rigs built in Australia is to notify the oil drilling industry that in future permits will not be given to drill for either gas or oil with imported rigs until such time as orders are lodged to replace the imported rigs on the coast. With this policy being pursued the Government will have drilling for oil or gas on the Australian coast rigs built in Australian shipyards thus guaranteeing continuity of work in the shipyards for the men employed.







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