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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

hi most countries mobilization schemes ure kept very secret, but the question arises in one's mind in regard to plans concerning " industrial preparedness." as to whether it would not he better that they should be known and understood by every one, so that every citizen should realize that he has obligations to his country. This knowledge would foster an interest in the defence of his country or empire in case of emergency, and encourage the spirit of patriotism, at little cost to the government. For, after all, the entire project of " industrial preparedness" or " mobilization of industry," rests upon the patriotic willingness and help of civilians in the industrial world.

Fortunately, we have our own munition factories. Some time ago I visited the munitions factory at Maribyrnong and 1 was greatly impressed with the efficiency shown, particularly when 1 learned that the first gun ever turned out by the operatives at that establishment was 100 per cent, efficient, although the majority of the men had never previously seen such guns made. Of course, munition factories differ from ordinary factories in that their output does not go into consumption, but must be stored, and this rnakes it necessary that extensive storage space should be provided. That brings me to the subject of private manufacture of munitions, and I wish to say, emphatically, that I am entirely opposed to the manufacture of arms for private profit. 1 believe that, if it is necessary to co-opt private firms for the making of munitions, it is the duty of the Government to assume control, and I hope that it will do so should such an emergency ever arise. Whilst I was very impressed with the efficiency of individual munition factories, I cannot say that I was altogether satisfied with the possible rate of production, inasmuch as the factories are not big enough to meet probable requirements in time of need. The Government has spent a consider- able sum of money in sending persons to England to be trained in the making of munitions, and I hope that the Defence Department has kept in touch with them so that their services may be availed of if they are needed.

Consideration should also be given to the mobilization of transport. All the various militia units would require transport in the event of mobilization. A census of available transport should be taken in conjunction with the State governments, and there should be allotted to individual militia units the particular transport that would be theirs in the event of mobilization. In this way much valuable time would bo saved.

The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), in the course of a constructive speech, dealt at length with the subject of rifle clubs. He said that more use might be made of rifle clubs for defence purposes, and pointed out that their services could be availed of under three headings. First, he said there were those rifle club members of military age who were physically fit. In the event of war they should go into the fighting forces. There were other men of military age, but not so fit, who could be used as coast guards, and for the guarding of wireless and cable stations. There was a third class consisting of men who were still older, and less physically fit, who could be used to guard essential services. I believe that much could be clone in. that direction. He also said, and I agree with him, that riflemen should be taught the use of light automatic weapons such as the Lewis gun, the Hotchkiss gun, and the Bren gun, when it is available. It is also desirable that members, of rifle clubs should do more, shooting on the range under service conditions. It has been said that the Government has restricted the operations of rifle clubs too much, but the fact is that expenditure on clubs has increased from £26,000 in 1932 to nearly £66,000 for the last financial year. Some striking facts emerge when we examine the conditions "which apply to rifle clubs. In the first place, in order to be classed as efficient, a member must fire " such practices as mav be approved by the Military Board ". He must keep his rifle in good order and condition, and produce it on demand. Such practices as are approved at the moment are the firing of 24 rounds a year, eight rounds on three different days. The remarkable thing .is that no standard of scoring ia required. There is no departmental inspection to see if the conditions are complied with, nor is any standard of physical fitness prescribed. Members may be' of any age from sixteen ito 60, and a member is classed as efficient if he fires only 24 rounds in the year, and misses the target with every shot. For each efficient member the club is entitled to 200 free rounds of ammunition and 5s., though if the firing be done on a militia range the amount is reduced to 2s. 6d., and if the club consists of members of the militia the amount is ls. fid. I think the Government should institute a. system of physical examination for members of rifle clubs whom they hope to be a potential reserve in time of danger. I have no desire to underestimate their value as a reserve, and 1 appreciate the services they rendered 25 years ago, but much more might be done to develop their actual, rather than their potential, value.

When the Minister is framing the Defence Estimates, I hope that he will keep in mind the point I have frequently raised, namely, the need for a. standing army in Australia. The more I examine the matter, the more convinced I am that such a force is necessary to take the first shock should Australia be invaded, and to give time for the militia force to mobilize.

I have on previous occasions referred to rates of pay for members of the staff corps. It is not right that junior officers should be carrying out senior work for junior pay, yet that is what is happening at the present time. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) has said that the position is being remedied as quickly as possible, but it ls not being done quickly enough for my liking. This sort of thing would not be tolerated in any branch of the Public Service. In reply to a question in the Senate recently, it was stated that there were several vacancies in the staff corps for the filling of which approval had been given, and money placed on the Estimates, but they have not been filled. Now we are within a few hours of the end of the present financial year, and promotion is being denied to officers who should have it. .

Once more I ask that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) should be invited to become a permanent member of the council for defence. If we have not the co-operation of the Opposition to the extent that it can be given, and if the Leader of the Opposition is not a member of the council for defence, we cannot have any continuity in our defence policy, and without some measure of continuity there is a danger that the policy will be changed every time there is a change of Government.


Mr Brennan - Is it not first necessary to have, agreement in regard to policy i







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