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Wednesday, 19 September 1973
Page: 1234

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) has moved that Standing Orders be suspended. There are 3 reasons why this resolution should be supported. The first is that a defence statement was made in this House nearly a month ago and no opportunity has been given to this Parliament to debate it. The motion moved by the honourable member for Kooyong has suggested that we should be given a chance to present the facts behind the reduction in the morale of the armed forces and the complete neglect by this Government of re-equipment programs which are so essential to enable Australia to maintain its defence capacity.

The second reason why Standing Orders should be suspended is that Major Peter Young, the pre-election spokesman on defence for the Australian Labor Party, has come out and condemned the Government, of which he would have been a member had he been elected, and the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) for the way in which they are administering the defence portfolio. The third reason is that the Minister himself during question time this morning, in spite of his tiptoeing around with epithets - as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) so correctly said, he is a nice chap but we are just worried about his competence - offered to debate this issue.

It is essential that Standing Orders be suspended so that the Minister for Defence can demonstrate to us whether he has any competence. When we have those 3 grounds for the suspension of Standing Orders - the defence statement that has not been debated; Major Peter Young, the principal spokesman for the Australian Labor Party prior to the election coming out and condemning the Labor Party and the Government for their inability and their failure in the defence field; and, finally, the Minister for Defence offering to debate the issue - it is absolutely imperative that there be an adequate opportunity for us to demonstrate in this Parliament how the morale of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force has been affected.

Even during question time today, the Minister alleged confidentiality in a defence report on the siting of the Galston airport. I wonder whether that is the report by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal C. F. Read. I wonder whether perhaps the reason the Minister for Defence claims that the report is confidential is that it might suggest that Richmond no longer would be useable in an operational sense should Galston airport be proceeded with. Is this the reason? Does it mean that Richmond airport is to be closed? Does it mean that the Royal Australian Air Force no longer will have available to it this major operational Air Force base-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The time allotted for the debate has expired.

Question put.

That Standing Orders {Mr Peacock's motion) be suspended.

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