Mr Wilson (4:30pm) — It should be a no-brainer for a government that has otherwise ignored the serious decline in Australian shipping to look closely at the opportunity to secure the ongoing service of the Aurora Australis. As an island that is extraordinarily dependent on shipping capacity, it would be derelict to give up a ship that has the proven capability for the serious challenges we face.
This summer we've seen the value of shipping assets, an essential part of disaster relief efforts. We've seen people rescued out of coastal communities marooned by fire. We know, because we've been warned and because the science tells us, that such disasters—whether they're fires, storms or tidal events—are going to increase and become more savage both in Australia and in our region.
So, as we transition from the Aurora Australis to the new RSV Nuyina, why wouldn't we take the opportunity to purchase and operate the Aurora for its proven all-around utility as a general service and disaster response vessel? The Aurora can transport one million litres of fuel, carry 40 sea containers and accommodate 100 passengers in addition to the crew and launch helicopters, and it features an on-board hospital. If you wanted to build such a vessel from scratch it would cost $100 million plus. Yet the government could take on this proven ship for a tiny fraction of that, which is why it makes a huge amount of sense for the Australian government to look at purchasing the Aurora Australis as a first step in the direction of creating a national strategic fleet.