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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 3579

Mr KILLEN (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Defence, concerns patrol boats. I ask: Does the honourable gentleman agree that patrol boats now in service with the Royal Australian Navy fulfil a more than useful role carrying out fisheries protection, surveillance duties and sovereignty visits? If so, will he give to the House an explanation as to why the Government has decided to give patrol boats to Indonesia?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - The decision to provide 2 Attack class patrol boats to Indonesia is part of the defence aid program to that country. Naturally, the patrol boat that was handed over to Indonesia last weekend would have required considerable modification for Australia's requirements, However, on the question of patrol boats generally, I agree with what the honourable member has said. It is the Government's attitude that it is, and will remain, predominantly the responsibility of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force to maintain effective patrols so far as fisheries and customs requirements of Australia are concerned. The Government has under consideration proposals that will increase the capability of Australia in relation to customs activities and, as I have explained to the honourable member, to fisheries activities as well. This additional capability will almost certainly require additional patrol boats. This matter is now under consideration and when a decision has been made it will be announced at the appropriate time.

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