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Wednesday, 21 July 1920

Williamstown Naval Stores - Wil- liamstownandcockatooisland ShipbuildingYards- Delay in Mail Deliveries.

Motion (by Mr. Groom) proposed -

That the House do nowadjourn.

Mr.MATHEWS(Melbourne Ports) [10. 20].-I endeavoured to elicit from the Minister -for the Navy (Sir . Joseph Cook) by a question to-day the intention of the Governmentin. regard to the naval, stores at Williamstown. According to the Minister's reply ' the Government intend toclose those stores, because they are only a duplication that grew up during war time. I do not ask the Government toduplicate any work at the risk of, economy, but I do not think that we should sacrifice -efficiency to economy. The stores at Williamstown, and the ship repairing yard, have done excellent work for which; they have been eulogized by the Department. The ship repairing yard has been apaying concern. Isit the intention of the Government to break up the whole of that Department ? Do they intend to send the stores to Sydney and arrangefor the repair work to be done byprivatefirms, or will provision be made in the shipbuilding yards for such work? Naturally the employeesat Williamstown storesandrepair yards and the people of the ; district are- concerned as to the Government's' policy in this regard. There is a. further rumour that the Government intendto sell the shipbuilding . yards to some private firm, and it is noted, as some, proof of that, intention, that representativesof big British shipbuilding firms, arein Australia spying out the, land, and inquiring particularly ;intothe shipbuilding yards' nowoperated by the Government. . It may besaid that I am asking toomuch in requestingtheGovernmenttodisclosetheirpolicybutI submit, that, there can benothing in regard to this matter which the people should not know. At any rate, I hope nothing will be done by the Government before the House has had an opportunity to consider the proposal, and the people of Australia have been given a chance of expressing their views about the abolition of a Government enterprise that has developed there.

Mr Poynton - The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated on a previous occasion that the Government had received no offer for the shipbuilding yard, and that if any offer were received Parliament would be consulted before any action was taken:.

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