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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr BOWDEN (Parramatta) (Minister for Defence) .- The motion before the House relates to the provision of additional accommodation for the men at Flinders Naval Depot. At the present time the Flinders establishment is carrying more than its regular complement of men. They are crowded in the dormitories, and with additional men coming in the congestion will become even more serious. The only purpose of the extension of the existing buildings is to provide the proper accommodation to which the men are entitled.

Mr Brennan - To what class of men is the Minister referring?

Mr BOWDEN - The naval ratings. The number of men in the schools varies according to the size of the classes taking special courses in torpedo, wireless, gunnery, and other special subjects. Flinders, whatever its disabilities may be, is the establishment provided for this purpose by Parliament, and already more than £1,000,000 has been expended there. The suggestion that the men at Flinders might be transferred to Jervis Bay is impracticable, because the instruction given at the two places is altogether different. The trainees at the Jervis Bay Naval College are cadets aged from thirteen to seventeen years, and the greater part of their training is the ordinary school curriculum. That is supplemented by special training in mathematics, engineering, and other technical knowledge that is necessary to the boys as future officers of the Fleet. The training at Flinders, on the other hand, is designed to qualify men for petty officer ratings, and is in various technical subjects which are not taught at Jervis Bay. It would be impossible to transfer a dozen or 50 men from Flinders to Jervis Bay for instruction without transferring the Flinders instructors also.

Mr Mahony - Somebody is humbugging the Minister..

Mr BOWDEN - The honorable member sometimes attempts unsuccessfully to do that, and he also makes statements that cannot be verified. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has suggested that the Aviation School at Point Cook should be transferred to Flinders. If that were done the special instructors at Point Cook also would have to be transferred. The aerodrome would not be nearly as satisfactory at Flinders as it is at Point Cook. It would be located a good deal further from a town than it now is, and, generally speaking, there would be nothing to gain by removing the establishment to Flinders. The necessary buildings and other accommodation have already been provided at Point Cook, and there would be no justification for the expenditure that would be involved in reestablishing it elsewhere. The amalgamation of the Duntroon and Jervis Ray Colleges was carefully considered by me at the beginning of last year, and I was satisfied that there would be no economy in adopting that idea. At Duntroon we are training boys for a military life, and the Jervis Bay students are to become sailors. The lads enter the latter institution in their thirteenth year, and remain until their seventeenth year, while at Duntroon the ages range from seventeen years to twenty-one years. The trend of educational development throughout the world is to separate the younger boys from the older ones, and, if possible, to place them in different institutions. This feature is to be noted in every college of importance in Australia. The Duntroon boy starts his training at the age at which the Jervis Bay lad completes his course. A youth who has finished the course at Jervis Bay can enter any of the universities of. Australia, except the University of Sydney, and will be recognized as having matriculated, while Duntroon students, on completing the course there, can go into any of the universities as third-year students for an engineering degree. An amalgamation of the two colleges would fail to effect economy, and would prejudicially influence the training of the students. It should be realized that the Flinders Depot is already firmly established.

Mr Mahony - It ought to be clumped.

Mr BOWDEN - It represents an expenditure of £1,000,000, and it is the recognized naval training establishment. Accommodation is already provided for the officers, awl it is surprising to me to find that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), to whom I looked for support on this motion, objects to provision for the necessary accommodation for the naval ratings. He is usually anxious concerning the welfare of the men.

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