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Tuesday, 18 April 1972
Page: 1143

Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Air, follows upon his answer to me last Thursday concerning the replacement of aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. I now ask him whether he is able to give more information about this matter? Does the Government intend to insist upon joint production for such replacement aircraft? Which firms from which countries accept co-production of such aircraft? Is SAAB, the Swedish aircraft manufacturer, one of these firms?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Air) - The honourable senator will recall that last week I said that my Department has issued 2 Air Staff requirements for replacement of aircraft. One of these Air Staff requirements was for the replacement of the Mirage and the other was for the replacement of the Winjeel aircraft. I might add now that investigations are proceeding as to the possible replacement of the Macchi aircraft which is due to reach an end of life period about 1980. I said that we expect a number of companies to tender for the replacement of the Mirage aircraft and that so far we had received. 3 proposals. One of those proposals includes a proposal from the company to which the honourable senator has referred. However, we expect a further three or four proposals from other companies. In regard to the Winjeel, we have received a number' of firm proposals from companies for a replacement for that aircraft. I must emphasise that certain steps must be taken in regard to these proposals. Firstly; the Royal Australian Air Force has to evaluate the operational and technical performances of all the aircraft to see that they meet its requirements. Secondly - I emphasise that the Government is very firm about this - proposals for the supply .of aircraft, whether they are constructed under licence or under a joint production arrangement, must pay regard to offset orders. An examination of these proposals will take a good deal of time. Therefore, I cannot give the honourable senator a firm answer.

Finally, I think I should add that the Minister for Defence announced within the last few days that offset orders worth $3m from aircraft companies in the United States of America and Britain had been arranged with the Australian aircraft industry. This is an example of what we are aiming at. Under these arrangements, the Australian Government Aircraft Factories will produce the rudders, elevators and fuselage ribs of Boeing 727 aircraft. This is the type of offset orders that we hope will be contained in these proposals.

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