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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - In reward to the first question, I may say that balance- sheets have been prepared. I had them before me this morning, and gave instructions that they should be submitted to the Auditor-General for Audit. When they have been audited, the Government will lay them on the table, and have them printed and circulated to honorable senators.

Senator McColl - It is a pity that we had not the balance-sheets before we were called upon to discuss these Estimates.

Senator PEARCE - If we had, the cry would probably be that the balance-sheets would give us only the word of the managers of the factories, and that the AuditorGeneral should have been asked to certify them. They will be audited long before the session closes, and honorable senators will have an opportunity to bring the Government to book' if they show that the factories have not been a success. I can only say that, from the figures supplied to me, both the Harness Factory and the Clothing Factory appear to be making their goods at less than contract prices, and are also turning out good articles. With regard to the honorable senator's second question, it is true that the Post and Telegraph Department formerly did a lot of this work. We are hoping that the Commonwealth Harness Factory will be able to do it in future, and that is why we are asking, on these Estimates, for a vote to extend the factory. None of the men who have been doing the work of the Post Office will be displaced as a result. .

Senator McColl - Are they transferred to the Harness Factory ?

Senator PEARCE - No. There is no room there; but, in any case, they will have enough of the same class of work to do in the future. The work of this kind which will be done at the factory is work which used to be done by contract.

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