PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7175


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/05/1987

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7175

Nearly four years ago, in August 1983, I announced that
Australia would develop, in conjunction with a number of
South Pacific nations, a Pacific Patrol Boat to meet our
common aspirations for a peaceful and productive Pacific
It is therefore a tremendous personal pleasure to be here
today to hand over the first of those Patrol Boats.
Let me, first of all, welcome the representatives of our
fellow members of the South Pacific Forum which are
participants in the Patrol Boat program : Papua New Guinea,
Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa and the Cook
Islands. It gives me great pleasure to be here today with
you all.
That pleasure is, however, qualified by events in Fiji,
which have led to the absence of its representative,
Brigadier Nailatikau, the Commander of the Royal Fiji
Military Forces, who is preoccupied with events in his own
country. I made the Australian Government's attitude to events in
Fiji very clear in Parliament on Thursday. Let me' reiterate
now the very strong hope of the Government and people of
this country that parliamentary democracy will be speedily
restored thLere.
The Australian Government accepts that the security and
stability of our region is fundamental to our own security
and we see the Pacific Patrol Boat as an important
initiative to that end. The project is the largest project,
ever undertaken through our Defence Co-operation Program, in
terms of both its regional scope and capital investment. it
complements Australia's existing defence interests and
activities In the Pacific region.
The Defence Minister, Kim Beazley, recently announced some
other initiatives to further develop our regional defence
presence, including increased patrols in the Pacific by
Australian Defence Force ships and aircraft, and increased
assistance to regional states.

The Government's recent white Paper, The Defence of
Australia, confirmed that we will continue our -efforts to
contribute to regional security in concert with our
neighbours, and that we will maintain our capability to
operate throughout our region of primary strategic interest.
It is particularly appropriate that the first of the patrol
Boats should be handed over to the nation with whom we have
a special relationship, Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea's special relationship with Australia makes
it a natural focus for defence co-operation.
Our Defence Forces maintain a close working relationship,
including annual consultations at the highest level; the
attachment of specialist Australian Defence Force personnel
to the Papua Now Guinea Defence Force; the stationing of
Australian units in Papua New Guinea, particularly technical
training staff; combined exercises; and other activities.
It is a measure of Australia's continuing commitment to this
relationship that we are providing some $ 22.8 million to
support these activities in 1986-87.
When I was in Port Moresby in September 1985 for the
celebratiohs ' of the tenth anniversary of Papua New Guinea's
independence, I discussed with the then Prime Minister the
mutual benefit that would be derived from Papua New Guinea's
particip~ tion in the Patrol Boat Project. I was delighted
that Papua New Guinea decided to join the Project.
This is the fizst of four Patrol Boats that. Papua New Guinea
is to operate and it serves as a clear example of the
benefits to be derived from the overall program.
These benefits are not purely security ones though they
are of qrowinq importance in a region which is increasingly
becoming a focus of international attention.
The boats are also a practical response to the economic
imperatives of the participating countries. They are
designed to meet in a practical way the common need
expressed by nations of the South Pacific for an effective
means of patrolling their Exclusive Economic Zones.
Australia is aware of the difficulties which Pacific Island
countries have had in resisting the intrusions of the
deep-sea fishing states and the derogations which these make
from the political and economic sovereignty of regional
states. The project recognises the aspiration of the South Pacific
countries to achieve economic independence and the fact that
marine resources are vital to the achievement of that

The new boats will also assist South Pacific nations to
establish or further develop their regional maritime
capabilities and, at the same time, will encourage
surveillance co-operation within the region. As well, the
Pacific PatCrol Boat will provide a valuable capability for
disaster relief, medical evacuation and search and rescue
As significant as Today's handover is for the nations of the
South Pacific, it is also a notable achievement for
Australian Industry and, in particular, for Australian
Shipbuildi ig Industries.
I understan~ d that ASI provided an outstanding response to
the Pacific Vatrol Boat tepder. The ASI design was longer,
larger, and was considered more capable of handling rough
weather and of being easily repaired if damaged..
I am pleased to hear that ASI's interest in the Pacific
Islands is being extended beyond the area of defence work to
broader economic concerns. I understand ASI is proposing
joint ventures with Pacific Island nations which will give
those nations a larger share in harvesting the wealth of
their fishing zones. The Government welcomes such
proposals, which clearly reflect the linkage which we have
always emphasised between sovereignty and security on the
one hand, aiid economic development on the other.
As far as Australia's general shipbuilding industry is
concerned, Australia's planned defence projects will provide
a significant impetus. As the White Paper notes, the
extensive defence work planned to be undertaken in Australia
will draw heavily on local expertise and resources.
The Government plans to start building the new surface
combatant vessel at about the same time as the new
submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Together with
projects for minehunters and other vessels, the total value
of this defence shipbuilding program will be of the order of.
eight billion dollars. Australian industry involvement in
these projects is expected to be high.
over this period too, up to half the fleet will move to a
permanent station in Western Australia. This relocation
will require the build up of repair, refit and maintenance
facilities here in Western Australia capable of supporting a
range of Naval vessels from submarines and destroyers to
survey and supply ships.
As part of this initiative the Department of Defence is
buying, at a cost of about $ 6 million, a large second-hand
floating dock to accommodate ship sizes up to the largest in
the fleet. The dock will be provided for use by industry in
Western Australia free of charge for defence work and at a
reasonable rate of hire for commercial work. The local
share in this project will be to build the mooring and shore
facilities to accomtmodate the dock.

It must be understood, however, that the Government is not
interested in developing industries that are dependent on
Australian defence requirements alone for their survival.
The high technology nature of the Government's defence
requirements complements the Government's industry policy
approach which is directed towards the restructuring and
revitalisation of manufacturing industry to ensure it is
more internationally competitive, export-oriented and
innovative. For all these reasons and, most importantly, because of the
valuable contribution that the Pacific Patrol Boat can be
expected to make to regional security, it gives me great
pleasure to present formally the first Pacific Patrol Boat
to Papua New Guinea's Defence Minister, the Honourable
Stephen Tago.
Today's handover of HMPNGS TARANGAU serves as a visible
example and reminder of the co-operative approach to
security and economic prosperity which forms such a valuable
base to relationships between South Pacific Forum countries.
urr~ l I-

Transcript 7175