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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3978

Mr BURY (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Defence whether he proposes to appoint a committee to advise him on the construction of a series of destroyers. If any of the committee's recommendations are accepted, will the Minister be willing to accept responsibility for those recommendations? Will he postpone any formal announcement until after the House has risen so that there will be no possibility of the House scrutinising the serious decline in our Navy?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - A committee is to be established to consider the naval program in relation to the addition of new destroyers to our naval strength. A timetable has been provided to me, but I shall probably want to make some adjustments to it because I think it ought to be brought forward. Every import- . ance is being given to the deliberations and work of the committee. It will investigate a number of ships that are already available, ranging in size from about 800 tons to about 5,000 tons. They will all be under consideration. On Sunday night I shall be meeting with the Chiefs of Staff and other members of the Department of Defence at the Department of Defence complex. This is one of the matters that will be under discussion at that meeting. I assure the honourable member that when recommendations have been made to me by the committee and the Government has reached a decision I shall inform the Parliament of the committee's recommendations.

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