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Wednesday, 20 May 1914

Senator RAE asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

In view of the fact that the official figures supplied by the Minister, in reply to a previous question by Senator Rae, show that the outlay in connexion with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory amounts to the enormous total of £297,000, and that out of this a sum of £85,000 has gone in salaries and wages alone for the production of 3,300 rifles, or an average cost, for salaries and wages alone, of over £25 for each rifle completed, will the Minister have a searching inquiry made into the management of the factory by an independent body?

Senator MILLEN - The answers are -

Many circumstances have combined to retard output; but it is expected that unless some further unforeseen difficulties arise the full rated output of the plant will have been attained by September next. The Minister considers that the manager has shown zeal and ability in handling a highly difficult task, and sees no reason for the independent inquiry suggested.

Senator RAE asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

1.   On what date did the Lithgow Small Arms Factory commence the manufacture of the component parts of rifles?

2.   When were the first completed rifles issued from the factory at Lithgow?

3.   Is it not a fact that the whole of the machinery manufactured by Pratt and Whitney, of America, for the Commonwealth, was put together before leaving the United States, and sample rifles produced for testing purposes by the Imperial War Office before such machinery was forwarded to Australia?

4.   How many skilled mechanics were sent to America to gain rifle-making experience in Pratt and Whitney's factory?

5.   How many of these mechanics are still in the employ of the Lithgow factory?

6.   How many persons are employed in the stores department of the Small Arms Factory?

7.   What is the salary or wage of the foreman and of each of his assistants respectively?

8.   What is the total number of employes of all grades in the factory?

9.   How many of these employes are classed as skilled mechanics?

10.   How many as machinists, working automatic or semi-automatic machines requiring no lengthy experience?

11.   How many as unskilled labourers?

12.   For how many of the managerial staff have residences been built by the Commonwealth, and at what cost in each case?

13.   Dothe rentals charged covercapital, cost, and depreciation, &c. ?

Senator MILLEN - The answers are-

1.   The plant was accepted from the contractors on the 8th June, 1912.

2.   May, 1913.

3.   Yes.

4.   Six.

5.   Five.

6.   Eleven.

7.   Foreman, £5 per week; assistants, two at 1s. 4½d. per hour; two at1s. 3d. per hour; five at1s.1½d. per hour; one at1s.1d. per hour.

8.   Three hundred and sixty-eight (includes artisans and viewers not shown in 9, 10, and 11).

9.   Thirty-eight.

10.   Two hundred and twenty-nine.

11.   Sixty-two.

12.   Three. The three houses were constructed under one contract, but the computed cost of each is - manager, £2,750; assistant manager, £1,490; accountant, £1,510.

13.   The rental paid by the assistant manager is £50 and the accountant £30. The rent to be paid by the manager is now under consideration.

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