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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2522


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 27/01/1972

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2522

FOR PRESS: PM. No. 12/ 1972.
Statement by Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. William McMahon, C. H., M. P.
The Prime Minister stated today that the Government
proposed to examine later this year the question of replacing W~ N
destroyers scheduled for retirement from front line service in the
late 70' s and early 80' s. The design and construction of these
ships was an exceedingly complex and time consuming process and
would have to be put in hand this year if ships were to be available
in 1980. In the meantime the Government had given consideration
to the preliminary measures necessary to keep essential options
open. The Government had authorised the preparation of designs for
the first stage modernisation of Williamstown Dockyard. The total
cost of this modernisation work, if implemented, would be $ 6m. The
uesign work would involve only a small expenditure. The modernisat~ on
of Williamstown Dockyard was necessary in any case for efficient
operation of the dockyard.
Further work on the preliminary design of an Australian
built destroyer is also proceeding. An amount of $ 670,000 had
recently been authorised to assist in collection of design and other
data necessary fcr the decision to be made on the overall programme
later in the year. The next stage would be the issue of invitations
for t1-enders for the detailed dcesign of the vessels. It had been
decided that it would be prudent not to take this st * ep until a firm
Oecision had been reached to proceed with an Australian designed
' destroyer. The Prime Minister emphasised the crucial importance of
this project to the Navy and to Australian defence. Destroyers are
the backbone of the RAN combatant fleet. Modern destroyers equipped
with essential missile attack and defence systems wherever they are
produced are very expensive and the total impact on the defence
programme would be considerable. As the new ships will have a life
extending beyond the year 2000 it was essential that a thorough
examination should be completed before the Government entered into
any commitment.
CANBERRA, 27 January, 1972.

Transcript 2522