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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 127

Senator CAVANAGH asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:

(1)   Were 64 prime-movers ordered in 1968 by the Department of Supply from British manufacturers for use by the Department of the Army.

(2)   Were 2 prototype vehicles delivered in June 1969.

(3)   Were trials as to the safety and suitability of these protypes completed in June 1970.

(4)   Did the trials disclose that the requirement by the Department of the Army, that the 'take off' equipment, which operates winch and control couplings, be mounted on the rear of the gearbox rather than on the sheafer mounting makes the vehicle unsafe and unsuitable.

(5)   Did the Department of the Army approve the manufacture and delivery of the remaining vehicles after these trials had shown them to be unsafe.

(6)   Was a payment of $224,000 made in 1970- 71 to rectify the mistake.

(7)   Is the present position such that (a) 60 of the prime-movers, valued at $2.4m, are in army depots and are unsafe for use, and (b) expenditure of $100,000 would be required to make these vehicles safe for use.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   Sixty-four prime-movers were ordered through the Department of Supply in October 1968 from British Leyland Motor Corporation in Australia to meet the Army requirement for an all purpose motive power unit for heavy haulage.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   Yes.

(4)   User trials disclosed that, when used with the 60 ton tank transporter, the prime-mover was completely satisfactory and safe under all conditions likely to be experienced. However, when usedwith the 35 ton transporter under certain exceptional conditions, the commecial type rear mounting of the power take off equipment on the prime-mover presented an unanticipated problem. Although confined to the coupling and uncoupling phases when performed under the adverse terrain conditions likely, to be encountered during military operations, this problem generated an unacceptable delay factor as well as a possible hazard to the safety of operators.

(5)   In view of the need to provide a forward mounted power take off unit for use with the 35 ton transporter, the Departments of Supply and

Army conducted a joint evaluation to determine the best means of accomplishing the required modification. Due to the terms of the contract, it was found to be more economical to accept delivery of the existing vehicles, and to fit alternative power take off units subsequently, than to vary the contract specifications to effect the modifications before delivery.

(6)   No.

(7)   (a) At present, 6 of the prime-movers are satisfactorily in use with 60 ton tank transporters while 2 others are under examination at the Army Design Establishment in connection with the development of the modification programme. The remainder are held in Army depots and will be modified progressively.

(b)   The cost of modification, to be carried out in Army workshops, will total about $108,000.

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