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Wednesday, 29 June 1938


Mr JENNINGS (Watson) (5:40 AM) . - Of the 50,000 members of Australian rifle clubs, each pays from £10 to £12 a year to become proficient in the use of the service rifle, but there is an impression among riflemen generally that the Defence Department gives little encouragement to the movement. Whilst difficulty is experienced in bringing the Citizen -Forces up to their full establishment, many men are anxious to join the rifle clubs. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has said that applications have been received for authorization of about 30 new clubs in Queensland. In New South Wales 47 similar applications have been received, and there would be many more if funds could be provided, but an instruction recently issued indicates that only five new clubs can be formed in that State during this financial year. Rifle clubs are a valuable arm of the defence forces. They could be made an even more important arm. Their members might well be given instruction in the use of the Lewis, Hotchkiss and Bren guns. Complaints have been made recently about the treatment received by various clubs; for instance there was a complaint concerning buildings erected on the Anz'ac Rifle Range. Some years ago the Randwick range was declared to be unsuitable for rifle practice, and the Anzac range was provided for the purpose. Certain buildings were transferred from the Victoria Barracks to the Anzac Range, and a few years later they fell into disrepair, largely owing to the ravages of white ants. It was also found that nearly all of them had been erected in such an unsuitable position that 25 per cent, of the targets could not be used. When these facts were pointed out, the department later gave authority to remove and re-erect the buildings. The National Rifle Association of New South Wales was requested to do this work, and now it is expected to pay a balance of approximately £2,000 qf the cost. The department has apparently paid about £1,000, and now suggests that the balance should be provided out of the funds of the National Rifle Association. In the last 77 years the accumulated fund of the association, apart from the money disbursed in shooting prizes, has reached £3,900, which has been accumulated from charges to riflemen, and is a. reserve fund for them against contingencies. This sum is, of course, the property of the association. It is suggested that the department has acted wrongly in this direction and that the Minister should look into the matter. Another very serious complaint is in connexion with the supply of ammunition for the Empire rifle meeting held at Liverpool in connexion with the New South Wales sesqui-centenary celebrations. I understand that for this meeting, about 350,000 rounds of ammunition were required. It has been the custom of the department to charge the association £2 10s. a thousand for ammunition used by .its members. On this occasion this charge was made in respect of 250,000 rounds, but without notice, I am informed, a charge was made of £10 5s. a thousand for the extra rounds. Actually 87,150 extra rounds were used and the association was involved in a loss of £893 5s. 9d. To add to the irony of this situation, the ammunition was discovered to Iia ve been manufactured in 1922, and was therefore fifteen or sixteen years old. The chairman of the National Rifle Association suggests that cordite ammunition depreciates to such an extent, that after fifteen years it is no longer useful for expert shooting. Apparently the naval authorities say that this ammunition depreciates after five years. These are very serious matters which I suggest should be looked into by the Minister with a view to their rectification and to the removal of the unfortunate ' impression created in the rifle clubs that, they are' not wanted by the department. I feel sure it is the wish of this Parliament that every possible encouragement should be given to the rifle club movement.







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