Fitzgibbon searching for answers as to why original HMAS Cessnock was so named

The HMAS Cessnock. Picture: Liam Driver/Fairfax Photographic archive.
The HMAS Cessnock. Picture: Liam Driver/Fairfax Photographic archive.

HMAS Cessnock was one of many Minesweepers (commonly known as corvettes) built during World War II in Australian shipyards as part of the Commonwealth Government's wartime shipbuilding program.

Twenty (including the Cessnock) were built on Admiralty order but commissioned and manned by the Royal Australian Navy.

HMAS Cessnock II was commissioned at Cairns on March 5, 1983, the eighth of 15 Fremantle class patrol boats built for the Royal Australian Navy between 1980 and 1984. She was also the seventh Australian built Fremantle class patrol boat.

The question is, why was the original Cessnock so named?  So far I've not been able to find the answer and I'm hoping readers may be able to help. It's a long time ago I know, but I feel confident someone out there will know something.

My research so far has uncovered a Government decision to name vessels in Her Majesty's fleet after country towns.  But even with the assistance of the Parliamentary Library, I've not been able to find out how the towns were chosen.

I've written to and spoken with the Minister for Defence Industry in the hope he may be in a position to assist. He has committed to doing so.

Why am I so curious?  The Cessnock RSL Sub-Branch wants the Government to give consideration to naming one of the yet-to-be-built Offshore Patrol Vessels Cessnock III. It's an idea I support but I believe solving the mystery of the original naming may also provide a chance to strengthen the argument for Cessnock III.

If you know something, please let me know.

Impossible to compete

Like most people, I lament the loss of car manufacturing in Australia. As a country, we have a proud history of making and building things. 

But in a changing world, these things are largely outside our control. We know longer make textiles because we can't compete with countries which pay their workers a pittance. 

We used to have tariffs but they are a tax on Australian consumers.  They also cause us to use our capital and people resources in areas where we are not competitive rather than the sectors where we are better than others.

We can compete on cars, but we lack close-to-home customers. In the early 1980s the Hawke Government saw the need to re-orient our car industry towards export. The more cars you sell the lower the unit cost of producing more is. So under the Button Plan, Labor provided export facilitation grants in order to grow the sector's customer base. It worked for a long time but there was an emergence of the big, highly-automated production lines in Asia, right near the bulk of the customers. Being close to the customers allows them to do it cheaper, so does their large customer bases.

Australia could keep throwing more and more taxpayers' money at the owners of the local industry but sadly, we would only enter a bidding war with our big competitors. Unfortunately, it's not a battle we can win.

Contact me

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Please like my Facebook page Joel Fitzgibbon MP, follow me on Twitter @fitzhunter and check my website regularly for news. To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753 or post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.


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