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Thursday, 25 June 1914

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) (Minister of Defence) . - Before replying to the statements of Senator Pearce, I would like to express my regret at the circumstances which are responsible for him speaking earlier in the debate than the Leader of the Opposition. I only trust that the indisposition which has prevented Senator McGregor from being present in this chamber will be of brief duration, and that we shall see him here again before the session closes. I turn now to the matters which Senator Pearce has brought forward, and personally I can have no objection to him affording me an opportunity for dealing with some of the very reckless statements which he has made, not only in this chamber, but outside of it, and which - if I am any judge of his methods - he will continue to make despite the fact that ample refutation of them is forthcoming. It would be impossible for me, in the brief time that I propose to occupy, to deal with the thousand and one matters which are involved in the statement of the honorable senator and with the important naval establishments which formed the subject of his criticism. I shall attempt however, to deal with some of the major ones - major in the sense that attention has been directed to them by his statements this afternoon. The honorable senator commenced by reading quotations from the Sydney Morning Herald, which is a new source of inspiration for him. There were only two definite statements in the whole of the extract he read from that paper, although it contained a good deal of reckless assertion. One was that the Government must at once introduce piece-work at Cockatoo Island, and the other that, although we had Mr. Julius' report in hand recommending the provision of a new power plant, no steps had been taken to carry out that recommendation. That is the influential journal whose advice he urges us to take, insisting, apparently without regard to consequences, and without preliminary inquiries or conferences with the men, on our at once introducing piece-work. The honorable senator could only have read the quotation to show that it carried his support, and that we were open to the criticism which the writer launched against us.

Senator Rae - Shame ! A corkscrew is straight after that.

Senator MILLEN - I do not understand the honorable senator's purpose in reading the quotation unless it was to bring forward the recommendation which the paper made with considerable emphasis, that I should, at all costs, introduce piecework at Cockatoo Island. Is anybody here prepared to indorse that suggestion?

Then as to the second statement: If the writer of the article had looked at the records in the columns of his own paper, he would have known that this Government did take action to meet the requirements shown to exist in Mr. Julius' report when it asked Parliament to appropriate money to supply the power plant.

Senator Rae - I suppose there was nothing to prevent you having a consultation about the matter first?

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator is welcome to any consolation that he can find in the fact that an officer went from Melbourne to confer with the engineer there about a multiplicity of details. It is quite natural, when dealing with a plant of which the cost runs into thousands of pounds, .to have, not one, but many conferences.

Senator Rae - I do not object; but you said -you could not even have a consultation because the money was not voted.

Senator MILLEN - There is nothing to justify that assertion. Senator Pearce has referred to the alleged delay in the appointing of Mr. King Salter, repeating the statement which he made a little time ago, and to which I offered a very reasonable and fair-minded answer. He said nhat when he left office -there was in the Department a recommendation from a committee appointed by him in favour of appointing Mr. Salter as manager at Cockatoo Island, and the honorable senator has been going about the country alleging that a delay of eight or nine months took place afterwards. I concluded the matter in December, and we took .office at the end of June - so that the period was only about five months, because for a month after we took office I was unable to do anything in the way of appointments owing to the Government having been challenged by a vote of censure by the honorable member's party. There is a well-known rule, which I anl not certain we ought to respect too closely outside matters of policy, that when a Government coming from the country is challenged it ought to abstain from all but routine business until it has made its position good in the House. After the censure motion had been disposed" of, I f felt ifc my . duty, in spite -of the recommendations -of the committee, to make other inquiries regarding which I informed the House in December last. I do not feel bound to take the recommendation of any committee without inquiry, no matter how influential its members. This committee had recommended a gentleman who occupied at that time a position which suggested to me the advisableness of making other inquiries about him. I never had any doubt about his professional qualifications, but I thought it advisable to make other inquiries as to his possession of -tact, and his capacity as a manager for an Australian dockyard, knowing that he was coming straight from a naval dockyard at Home to take .charge of .a yard manned by Australians, who were familiar, perhaps, with conditions other than those existing in a British yard. I thought it would be nothing short of disastrous to bring put here a gentleman who, for want of certain per sonal qualities, might be found illequipped to take charge of our establishment. I, therefore, made other inquiries, and in the course of these, while communicating with the High Commissioner, I ascertained that he also was informed regarding this gentleman, and was on his way out to Australia; so I .thought it better to delay the matter until I had an opportunity of personally conversing with Sir George Reid about it. Senator Pearce now twists that round and says that I was waiting for Sir George Reid's advice as to the professional qualifications, of Mr. Salter. What I did, before I ever thought of delaying until Sir George Reid came, was to institute inquiries, which could not be made in a day. I am pleased to be able to say that as the result I satisfied myself that when I cabled Home for Mr. King Salter at the end of December, I did so with more confidence that I was inviting the right man to come here than perhaps has been the case with any other man with whose appointment I have had anything to do.

Senator Rae - Do you agree with his recommendations as to piece-work ?

Senator MILLEN - I will deal with that matter later. I have fully justified what little delay did take place, because we wanted in a manager tact and other personal qualities necessary to lift the yard up from its present unsatisfactory condition on to a good, sound basis. The delay which 'did occur is more than justified by the results. In any case, ifc was not a delay of nine months; at the most, it was five months. I do not suppose that will prevent Senator Pearce from saying nine months when he next goes on a platform, because he has repeated the statement this afternoon. Although I reminded him that the appointment was made in December, and although he held in his hand a document showing that it was made then, he still did not feel any sense of shame in repeating the statement.

With regard to the closing of the yard, Senator Pearce said that when I first dealt with the matter I had an advantage over him and others, inasmuch as I had Mr. Julius' report, and he had not. I do not know how far that is true, because my recollection is that the, report was handed to the press by roe very shortly afterwards. In any ca-se, it was made available to this Chamber. I must remind the honorable .senator that the evidence he read this afternoon was all obtained after I closed the yard. That evidence, for what it is worth, was not available to me when I came to the decision which caused the boilers to shut down.

Senator Pearce - They were all your own officers, and all available for you to ask before you took action.

Senator MILLEN - They were; but does the honorable senator suggest that, having obtained the advice and recommendation of the principal officer in the Department, I was to go down to the minor officers and ask them also what they thought? The question to-day, so far as I am concerned, is not whether Cockatoo Island Dockyard ought to have been closed then in the light of what honorable senators know now. The only question I am concerned with now is whether, in the light of the information put before me at the time, I was justified in taking the course I did. Here is the evidence on which I acted. Here is the report placed before me. When Senator Pearce said that I had acted upon the advice of one member of the Board, I corrected him, and said it was the advice of the Board. Senator Pearce said, " No, it was one member." Here is the document, signed by three members, and the fourth one was absent through illness. The recommendation which came to me was this -

The following is extracted from the report of Mr. Julius, viz.: - " The whole of the boilers, of which there arc six, are practically worn out. All of them were, I believe, second-hand boilers when installed, and at the present time considerable repairs have to be effected every week-end to keep them running for another week." I am of opinion that the Board, having received this report, can pursue no other course than to immediately order the fires in these boilers to be drawn, and the boilers put out of, use until a survey can be made by a board of engineer officers. This will entail the suspension of a number of men for at least a week, in the case of a favorable tcport being received. On the other hand, if the boilers aru condemned as unsafe as the result nf this survey, the work of construction must In: stooped until other plant can be provided or other arrangements made.

That minute was originally drawn up and signed by Captain Clarkson, and on it is written, " I concur, H.M." - meaning Mr. Manisty - and " I concur, C.H.O.,"' meaning Captain Onslow. I believe the minute came to me at a meeting at which the matter was discussed, and I remember stressing the point with members of the Board present as to whether or not they thought we were justified in delaying the matter to make further inquiry, and the assurance was given to me then that the matter was too serious to take the risk.

Senator Rae - You took the risk of postponing the meeting till the next day.

Senator MILLEN - I did nothing of the kind. That was settled at the only meeting at which I was present. In view of that statement, no one can say that, as a layman, with the advice of the professional gentlemen of my Department before me that even delay was dangerous, I could conscientiously do other than I did. If this had been a private establishment, and it had been known that private employers were keeping boilers like this in use, every honorable senator would have denounced it as an evidence of greed on the part of a capitalistic employer. In the State House Senator Rae will remember we frequently heard claims for the inspection of land boilers, because of the great danger to life and limb incurred by those working with unsafe boilers.

Senator Rae - Quite right.

Senator MILLEN - When, therefore, a report signed by three members of the Board reached me, telling me that this was the only possible course to take, the position was very, simple. Was I prepared, in spite of that advice, to run the risk of keeping the boilers working, or was I to follow the advice tendered to me and take the course of safety?

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator not think that he could have telegraphed to Mr. Julius?

Senator MILLEN - I could have done many things. I wish again to draw attention to this report. I affirm that I raised the question as to whether we could confer again with Sydney, and the answer was given to me, and no one demurred to it on the Board, that the matter was too urgent, that the danger loomed too largely, and that there should not be a moment wasted.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear ! There should be no attempt to get confirmation, of course.

Senator MILLEN - I do not know that any man could have done other than I did. The three members of the Board presented a minute to me that, because of the way in which they read Mr. Julius' report- and it is immaterial whether they read it right or not - they came to the conclusion and advised the Minister that it was dangerous to continue to run those boilers. I say that I should have been criminally guilty if, in view of that, I had not immediately ordered the boilers to be closed down for examination. No other member of the Senate but Senator Pearce would urge that against me as a crime.

Senator Rae - Is it not a fact that the Minister received Mr. Julius, report and postponed consideration of it until next day?

Senator MILLEN - No; it is not. The explanation of that is this: I may point out that Mr. Manisty, in his evidence, did not confirm that, but said he thought it was so. I speak now after many months have gone by, and my recollection of the matter is that when the report first came before us I did not have an opportunity to read it. I received a telephone message next morning that it was necessary to have a Board meeting, because of the serious nature of the report, and I at once went down to the meeting.

Senator Pearce - Mr. Manisty said that there were two copies of the report, one of which was given to the honorable senator, and the other passed round to the members of the Board.

Senator MILLEN - That is quite right. The report was a long document. I receive many reports over night that I have not time to read before I go to bed. I did not read that report. I did not consider that it was sufficiently urgent to do so, and next morning I was informed of the serious nature of it, and that the Board desired a meeting to consider it, and I went down to the meeting. In any case there was the recommendation from three members of the Board, and there was only one course open to me, and that was to follow their advice, or, in the alternative, to run what appeared from the papers to be a serious risk, involving the lives of human beings. What were the alternatives to be considered ? The worst that could happen from following the course I approved was that there would be a little delay - a temporary shutting down of the works. The other alternative, had these boilers been as dangerous as the Board advised me they were, was to risk the sacrifice of life. Senator Pearce can take that risk if he likes. I will not do so now or at any other time.

I come now to the question of Cockatoo Island. One thing which has occurred today has been interesting, and may be useful, and that is the assertion by Senator Pearce that when he and his Government took over the yard they knew that much of the machinery was obsolete.

Senator Pearce - We made that admission twelve months ago.

Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend did; but there is one admission which Senator Pearce has not made yet, and that is that he played the Senate false regarding the taking over of Cockatoo Island. It is just as well, when we are going into ancient history, that we should go into it all.

Senator Senior - Does the honorable senator make the assertion that Senator Pearce played the Senate false?

Senator MILLEN - I do.

Senator Pearce - From any one else the statement might be serious.

Senator MILLEN - Well, here is Hansard in support of it. I am going to put Senator Rae into the box. On the 19th December, 1912, Senator Rae asked Senator Pearce, who was then Minister of Defence -

1.   Is it the intention of the Government to purchase or take over Fitzroy Dock, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, from the State of New South Wales 7

2.   If so, what price will be paid?

3.   Is it intended to consult Parliament before completing any contract for such resumption ?

4.   Is it intended to continue the present State officials in their managerial positions?

5.   If not, which officials will be dispensed with when the dual control ceases?

To those questions Senator Pearce replied -

Preliminary negotiations with regard to this matter are now proceeding, and the Government hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly with regprd to the matter. " Preliminary negotiations " ! Yet, within a week of that a wire was sent to Colonel Miller, at Canberra, to arrange to go to Sydney to represent the Government in taking over this transferred property.

Senator Pearce - No, in making a valuation.

Senator MILLEN - The whole thing was practically completed within twentyfour hours of the time that Senator Pearce made that statement.

Senator Pearce - That is not correct.

Senator MILLEN - I will modify the statement, and say within a few hours.

Senator Pearce - That is incorrect.

Senator MILLEN - Then I can produce the documents, and show them to honorable senators. Within a week of the time when Senator Pearce made that reply - the question was asked on the 19th December, and the telegram to Colonel Miller is dated the 24th of the same month - Colonel Miller was instructed to proceed to Sydney to represent the Government in taking over the property. It was no mere question of valuation preparatory to taking over the property, but the actual taking over of the property. The papers disclose, not that preliminary negotiations were in progress, but that the negotiations at that time were completed with the exception of one or two details referring particularly to the position of the officers who were to be transferred. This piece of deception by Senator Pearce was duplicated in another place by his leader, Mr. Fisher, who assured the members of the House of Representatives that they would be consulted before the transfer was completed. The right honorable gentleman never kept that promise. There was in this case an attempt to get the matter through without Parliament being informed of it. The Ministry desired to place it in such a position as to prevent criticism of their action until it was too late to criticise. There was a very good reason for this. Senator Pearce knew that he was taking over an obsolete plant, and the State Government knew that they were getting rid of it. No sooner did the State Government find this ready purchaser than they loaded the burden upon their friends, and immediately set to work to select an ideal spot where they are. starting an up-to-date establishment for much less than the last Commonwealth Government paid for an obsolete one.

Senator Pearce - They are establishing something entirely different.

Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend is quite right. No one would ever dream now of building the establishment which he bought at a cost of nearly £1,000,000. Senator Pearce has again referred to what he has described as a policy of delay, and says that we did not act on Mr. Julius' report as promptly as we might. I gave an answer to-day to a question put by the honorable senator with regard to this matter. It indicated that Mr. Julius, having presented his re port, I think, in July, was then invited to come to Melbourne and confer with the Naval Board. It was not possible for him to do that in twenty-four hours. Mr. Julius is a busy man. He would not be worth much to the Department if he were not. As a busy man, well up in his profession, it was some time before he was available for the purpose. When he was available there were many details to be discussed, as honorable senators can readily understand. The upshot was that an agreement was arranged with Mr. Julius to put through all the plans and specifications, to call for tenders, and, when they came in, to supervise the installation of the plant. It is quite obvious that we were not in a position to spend a single penny on the plant until Parliament had made the necessary appropriation. There was, therefore, a clause inserted in the agreement providing that it was to be contingent upon Parliament making the necessary provision. No doubt Senator Pearce would have rushed into the matter, quite ignoring Parliament. I have not the slightest doubt, judging by the way the honorable senator took over Cockatoo Island, that he would have snapped his fingers at Parliament, and would have blundered ahead without considering the result. It did not appear to me that that would be a right course to follow in view of what was due to Parliament, or that it would be good business. I therefore inserted in the agreement a provision that it was to be contingent upon a parliamentary appropriation. As early as possible we got Parliament to appropriate the money, £175,000. Steps were then immediately taken to inform Mr. Julius that he might get to work. I do not know whether he had gone before the Loan Bill was passed, but Mr. Julius notified us that he was going away for a holiday at Christmas time, and he went. On the 24th January, the Third Naval Member of the Board had a conference with Mr. Julius. Some attempt has been made by the cheap wits of the Opposition to suggest that it was not necessary to get a parliamentary appropriation to justify a conference. Of course it was not. But having got the appropriation it was necessary for some one to go still more into detail with Mr. Julius as to the way in which his recommendations were to be carried out. For that purpose the Third Naval

Member travelled from here to Sydney in order to thresh out the whole matter. The result was that Mr. Julius was thengiven the necessary authority to proceed. He had to draw up plans and specifications of the plant required before tenders could be advertised for. I cannot say whether honorable senators know anything about an extensive power plant ; I do not myself; but I understand from inquiry that it includes a multiplicity of separate machines and parts, and carefully drawn specifications are required for each. As my honorable friends opposite tell us, when calling for tenders we should always beware of the contractors.A contractor is a man who appears to be wanting in any conception of what is right.

Senator Senior - This is humorous.

Senator MILLEN - That is the view my honorable friends opposite take. Yet they find fault when, in this case, a few weeks' time was spent in drawing up plans and specifications upon which to advertise for tenders for an intricate power plant.

Senator Rae - Without imputing dishonesty, is it not a fair thing to say that some contractors require watching?

Senator MILLEN - The answer given to Senator Pearce discloses the fact that, on the 24th February, Mr. Julius was given final instructions to proceed. I assume from what follows that he then got into touch with the general manager at Cockatoo Island. It must occur to any one that, in putting in new plant in place of an old one, the new installation must proceed on such lines as will not throw the establishment idle. Mr. Julius, therefore, got into touch with Mr. King Salter, and a month later they submitted a joint recommendation urging that, instead of proceeding on Mr. Julius' recommendation to invite tenders for one plant only, alternative- tenders should be invited in order that the Board might be able to determine as between the two plants which would- give best value for themoney. That is what has happened, and nothing more can happen until Mr. Julius has completed his plans and specifications. I do not know, but I presume that by this time, they are nearly completed; but that is a matter for which I have no responsibility.

SenatorGuthrie. - What were the alternative plants?

Senator MILLEN - The Diesel engines as against electrically-driven engines. This is the matter of which Senator Pearce seeks to make so great a mouthful. The delay was inevitable, since we had first to obtain parliamentary sanction for the expenditure. Whatever delay has occurred since must be. charged to a professional gentleman - Mr. Julius - who has. been engaged in. drawing up plans and specifications upon which tenders will be invited..

Senator Guthrie - That is not the question at all. The question is, How have the works been going on during that time?

Senator Pearce - Nothing has been done.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Pearce again utters his little parrot cry, and says that nothing has been done. I want to know what can be done when a new" plant is required but to set to work to obtain it. Will the honorable senator say that he could have obtained the plant any earlier than we have done?

Senator Pearce - Yes.

Senator MILLEN - I should like to know how. The only way in which the time could have been shortened was by proceeding without parliamentary authority. That is exactly what. Senator Pearce did when he bought Cockatoo Island without obtaining the sanction of the Senate or of the other branch of this Legislature.

Senator Rae - Would the oost of getting plans formulated contingent upon obtaining Sdpply have been a very great undertaking? It would have saved a lot of time.

Senator MILLEN - Probably it would. But the honorable senator will notice that the arrangement with Mr. Julius was one which, I think, had everything to commend it. He was not only to prepare the plans and the specifications, but to superintend the installation of the plant. There is a great deal in that. As honorable senators will know, a man who draws up the plans and the specifications, who is the architect of the installation, is the best man in the world to see that it is properly carried out. The arrangement made with Mr; Julius was on the basis that he did the whole thing. If we were not going to get the money there was no need to proceed' under that arrangement.

Senator Pearce - If the Loan Bill did not pass, you were not going to have the power plant.

Senator MILLEN - If the Loan Bill did not appropriate the money we could not have had a new plant. Parliament had to make some appropriation. Senator Guthrie interjects that we are going to work with the dangerous boilers. It is not true that a single boiler which was condemned by the Naval Board was worked for a moment afterwards.

Senator Guthrie - Yes, they are working now.

Senator MILLEN - No. The boilers which were disclosed as dangerous were thrown out, and we immediately purchased other boilers to take their place.

Senator Guthrie - You only purchased two locomotive boilers.

Senator Rae - It was on a general condemnation that you proceeded, not on the condemnation of specific boilers.

Senator MILLEN - Whether the condemnation was general or not, it was sufficient and complete for any one in my position. It is pressing party animus to an extreme to try to make out that with such a recommendation as I had there was any other course open to me than to follow the recommendation. The whole of the boilers which were the subject of the test were condemned, although one or, possibly, two of them were permitted to continue under certain reduced pressure for a limited period.

Senator Long - And all with the exception of two were subsequently pressed into the service again.

Senator MILLEN - If they are in service again it is without my knowledge, nor do I believe the statement for a moment. I do not believe that the boilers which were condemned by the Naval Board have ever been used for. a minute since then. I challenge Senator Long to bring anything forward to support the reckless statement he made.

Senator McDougall - There were only two boilers condemned j the others were worked at a reduced pressure, as you know. Many of them are working there now.

Senator MILLEN - Of course, there were many boilers working there when the establishment was closed down. The assertion was, that there were still dangerous boilers working there.

Senator McDougall - No, not one.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator talks very wisely now. I ask any one to stand up here, and say that with that recommendation from three members of the Naval Board before him he would have done other than I did.

Senator Pearce - J would say that your experts stated afterwards that the boilers were not dangerous.

Senator MILLEN - It is a question of what the experts said then, not afterwards. I am not concerned with the evidence given to the Select Committee later.

Senator Pearce - Mr. Julius in his report never said that.

Senator MILLEN - I am not saying that he did. I say that the recommendation from the Naval Board, based as they said it was on his report, told me that the boilers were dangerous.

Senator Long - You ought to be proud of the Naval Board.

Senator MILLEN - Anyhow, there was a friend of the honorable senator's on the Board who signed 'that recommendation.

Senator Long - Any honest man is a friend of mine.

Senator MILLEN - The recommendation was signed by Captain HughesOnslow, on whose behalf the honorable senator kept us all out ' of bed one night. Senator Pearce, who never tires of asking that we should keep defence out of the arena of party politics, and who never misses an opportunity of trying to make defence a party question, has alleged to-day that what has taken place on my part has been an attempt to belittle or to deprecate the possibility of ship-building in Australia. The answer to that allegation is the statement of a few simple facts. If we wanted to prevent Cockatoo Island Dockyard from having a fair chance; if we wanted to create the impression that war-ships could not be built there; if we were out to destroy the initial effort which has been made there, would we have taken the first opportunity that came to us to ask Parliament to appropriate £175,000 to replace the obsolete machinery which Senator Pearce had bought a few months ago? Would we have taken the action we did to bring out here, at a good salary, a gentleman like Mr. King Salter; would we not have been prepared to let the establishment run along as it was, in a condition of muddle, knowing that if it was allowed to continue it would surely run itself out in the course oi time? If we were anxious to see this establishment end in total failure, would we do what we are prepared to do now, and that is to invite Parliament to vote a sum of £200,000 to still further equip this establishment and replace the obsolete machinery which Senator Pearce bought, and about which he made such a fuss at the time? That is the answer to the statement that we are not trying io give Cockatoo Island Dockyard a fair chance. Senator Pearce also said that we were without a programme; that we only sought delay; that we wanted the whole thing to run to the ground; that we were anxious, when the Brisbane was launched, that the men should be discharged ; that we were taking no steps to provide for a continuity of works. I have no doubt that when he leaves this Chamber he will make these statements again.

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear; I will!

Senator MILLEN - Before the honorable senator departs, let me show the little foundation there is for his statement. Let me first deal with the programme of the honorable senator, who says that we have no programme. A little while before he left office, he sent to British shipyards orders for two ships - the submarine depot-ship and the oil-ship. He spoke about the programme of his Government. It was to send orders' for vessels to be built out of Australia.

Senator Pearce - Would you have built the submarine depot-ship here?

Senator MILLEN - I would. When I found that it is was to be Built in the Old Country, I cabled to the Admiralty saying that the present Government desired to build the war-ships in Australia.

Senator Pearce - I am sure that you would !

Senator MILLEN - I am now giving the Senate my assurance that a cablegram was sent to the Admiralty.

Senator Pearce - I am sure that you would have built a submarine depot-ship here !

Senator MILLEN - There is no doubt as to the submarine depot-ship, but there is a difficulty in regard to the submarines. The submarine depot-ship is merely a tender to the submarines, and could be built in Australia as easily as the ships which we are building here to-day.

Senator de Largie - You were complaining a few minutes ago that you cannot put a dredger together.

Senator MILLEN - I am now trying to contrast our programme with that of Senator Pearce. ,He, apparently, had no difficulty in finding men. If that is the case, why did the honorable senator send the order for these two boats to be built outside Australia? When I found what the position was, I caused a cablegram to be sent to the Admiralty, telling them that the present Government were anxious that these vessels should be built in Australia, and asking them to say how far they were committed, because by that time tenders had been received. An answer came back which disclosed that in fairness to the Admiralty they could not then counteract the orders which Senator Pearce had given.

Senator Pearce - Nor would they have done so.

Senator MILLEN - That statement of my honorable friend must go for what it is worth. I give to the Senate my assurance that I submitted to the Cabinet a proposal in favour of building the ships here, that the Cabinet approved of the proposal, and that, as the result, a cablegram was sent Home.

Senator de Largie - Of course you did, but you cannot pub a dredger together.

Senator MILLEN - Let me tell my honorable friend, who must be in the habit of handling truth very lightly when he says that he will not accept my definite statement that at the time I put my minute before the Cabinet the question of the shortage of workmen was not as pressing as it was to-day. The attitude of Senator Pearce forces me to say that I do not care whether he accepts my statement or not.

Senator Pearce - Public actions speak more loudly than words.

Senator MILLEN - Here are public actions, such as finding every penny which is asked for to equip Cockatoo Island Dockyard.

Senator Pearce - You are not spending it.

Senator MILLEN - I do not want to go over the ground again.

Senator Pearce - How much of the item of £175,000 in the Loan Bill have you spent?

Senator MILLEN - I cannot tell the Senate at present.

Senator Pearce - Not a penny of it.

Senator MILLEN - That statement is not true, but it is like other of the reckless statements which the honorable senator makes.

Senator Pearce - Tell us how you have spent the money.

Senator MILLEN - Honorable senators know that I cannot tell them how much has been spent out of any item.

Senator Pearce - Tell us approximately.

Senator MILLEN - Nor can I do so approximately. The last statement is on a par with other reckless statements which this ultra-party politician is always making on a matter which he pretends should be kept out of the arena of party politics. No fair-minded man can charge the present Government with any delay in spending that portion of the £175,000 necessary for the installation of a new power plant. I have shown my honorable friend what his programme was - sending orders for the building of boats outside Australia. He said that the present Government were anxious, when the Brisbane was launched, that there should be no other "boat to take her place, that the workmen should be thrown idle, even appealing to their very natural fear in order to prejudice them against the Government. It would have been very much better and more honest, but very much less like Senator Pearce, if he had told the truth, and said that, whilst he did what he could to divert work from the establishment, at the same time he was speaking without any knowledge of what the Government intended to do. Let me point out the difference between the last Government and the present one.

Senator Pearce - You have been proposing to do something for the last twelve months.

Senator MILLEN - What the honorable senator did as the result of three years' work was to send certain orders for ship-building out of Australia. If I could not do something better than that in three years I would give up trying.

Senator Pearce - Who made the arrangement to construct the Brisbane and the three destroyers?.

Senator MILLEN - Are you going to live on that for ever? I am asked who made the arrangement. It was Senator Pearce, and he made such a bad arrangement that he had no sooner made it than he found that he was in a hopeless muddle; and, as he has admitted to-day, in order to get out of the muddle somehow, he was compelled by the State Government to take over a million pounds' proposition of old plant.

Senator Pearce - A bad case - abuse the other side.

Senator MILLEN - That is exactly what the honorable senator has been doing all the afternoon.

Senator Pearce - I have been giving facts.

Senator MILLEN - Then, heaven forbid that I should ever deal with facts. We are asked questions in regard to taking over this proposition. Senator Pearce has told us this afternoon why he took over the establishment. It was because he had such a contract with the State that it was hopeless to expect to get it carried out; the thing was breaking down then. The late Government had blundered in.

Senator Rae - It was because the Naval Board could not agree amongst themselves.

Senator MILLEN - Was it the differences on the Naval Board which caused Senator Pearce to make that agreement? Let Senator Rae answer that question.

Senator O'Keefe - Your party would not have been sorry if all the war-ships had been constructed outside of Australia.

Senator MILLEN - Why did the exMinister of Defence send the orders out of Australia? The best answer to the interjection is that I tried to stop the orders from being completed at Home, so as to have the vessels built here.

Senator O'Keefe - Our Minister has given very good reasons - reasons which the public will know.

Senator MILLEN - The ex-Minister of Defence has given no reason yet why he sent these orders Home. But having sent the orders Home, it came with a very ill grace from him that he should charge the present Government with trying to leave Cockatoo Island Dockyard without work to keep the men employed.

Senator Keating - He has given a reason; he is a Free Trader.

Senator MILLEN - There is the position. It is time that Senator O'Keefe and others ceased these absolutely unfounded aspersions about our trying to leave the dockyard without work' when it was the Labour Government, I repeat, who sent the orders for ship-building out of Australia - orders which I tried to countermand in order to have the work done in Australia. In contrast to the action of my honorable friend, who did what he could to divert work from these shores, and to put money into the pockets of workmen other than those engaged at Cockatoo Island, I intend to show what is proposed by the present Government. I admit that Senator Pearce did something. He did not merely propose to send the order for building these ships out of Australia - he sent them. Here is the programme of the present Government - it is rather a long minute, and I do not know whether I had not better give the substance of it.

Senator Pearce - It is good window dressing, I suppose.

Senator MILLEN - Probably it is better window dressing than is sending orders for the building of ships out of Australia. I should have made no reference to this matter, but forthe very impudent andunjustifiable assertion that the Government are anxious to discredit the building of war-ships in Australia.

Senator Pearce - Go on; " dress the shop window." More promises.

Senator MILLEN - Does Senator Pearce desire us to order the materialtoday that is required for the building of a ship five years hence? The position in regard to Cockatoo Island Dockyard is that it is necessary to proceed to coneider the construction of a subsequent vessel before the vessel on the stocks has been completed. In order to do that, we have to look ahead, and see how soon orders should be placed for the materials required for the construction of vessels to be subsequently built. Perhaps it would bewell for me to read a portion of the document which I hold in my hand, with a view to showing exactly to what the Government are committed.

Senator Long - And which the Minister is going to hand over to his successors inoffice.

SenatorMILLEN. - I have no doubt that our successors will find it yery difficult to getaway from it.

Senator Gardiner - Where do the present Government propose toget the necessary money?

Senator MILLEN -When honorable senators opposite receive answers to their questions which they do not regard as palatable ones, they ask other questions. How these obligations are to be met does not in any way affect the question of whether or not Cockatoo Island Dockyard is being kept fully employed. But the proposal of the Government is that this additional ship-building programme shall be defrayed out of revenue.

Senator Pearce - The lesson of 1910 has sunk deeply into the Minister's mind.

Senator MILLEN - That will not prevent my honorable friend from going round this country and repeating his libels. I propose to read a portion of the minute regarding this matter which I submitted some time ago to my colleagues. In it I dealt with the necessity which exists for providing for continuity of work at Cockatoo Island. That continuity of work is necessary in orderthat the establishment may be run with businesslike economy, and that the management may be able to retain a thoroughly trained and equipped staff. Otherwise the advantage which we gained in the building of one ship would be lost in connexion with the construction of another. It is, therefore, desirable to provide for continuity of work, in order that, as far as any establishment can do so, we may keep attached to Cockatoo Island the men who are skilled in the particular work to perform which the dockyard exists. I also pointed out in my minute that, in order to give effect to the Henderson programme, it was time to consider steps for the placing of orders for further vessels. Following these preliminary observations, I went on to say -

These considerations have induced the Government to approve a minimum ship-building programme covering the next five years. Only in some such way is it possible to carry on Cockatoo with anything likeefficiency and economy, and, at the same time, give effect to the Henderson programme. This, it willbe remembered, provided for the construction of -

One submarine depôt ship by the end of 1914-

That is the depot ship that was ordered from Home by my honorable friend, Senator Pearce -

Three submarines by the end of 1916.

Three destroyers by the end of 1917.

Threedestroyersbythe end of 1918.

These are in addition to the vessels already built or now in course of construction.

The Board, however, having fully considered the whole matter, advised, in place of the above, two light cruisers of the Brisbane class, and two improved submarines. In making this recommendation, the Board is following the lead of the Admiralty at Home. It appears not improbable that the present type of destroyer will disappear altogether, its place being taken partly by the improved submarine, which is, in fact, a submersible torpedo-boat, and partly by a new type of light cruiser which is in the nature of a destroyer destroyer. It is also considered by the Naval Board that the cruisers will be of more naval value in the immediate future than the six destroyers originally proposed. The proposed modification, I am pleased to say, has the approval of Admiral Patey, who, in addition to the reasons advanced, expresses the opinion that they will be more satisfactory for the training of the personnel than the destroyers would be. These two cruisers will bc built at Cockatoo; but, regarding the submarines, it is recommended, owing to the special and intricate structure and mechanism of these vessels, that they should be ordered from British yards. It will be sufficient if the orders for these vessels arc placed next year.

The total estimated cost of the modified programme will bc f 1,700,000, a sum slightly less than the estimated cost of the programme for which it has been substituted. This cost will be spread over the next four or five financial years. These proposals> as I have stated, the Government have decided to adopt as a minimum programme, leaving it open for any additions to be made, should circumstances render such action desirable.

It will be seen that these building proposals, covering the next five years, while continuing the steady development of the Australian Fleet, will also give effect to the policy of continuous work previously set out as being desirable regarding Cockatoo Island; but both a3 regards carrying out the building programme and providing for Cockatoo, it is clearly necessary to place orders a considerable time ahead.

The Government have adopted that minute, and instructions have been given to order the material for the first cruiser. The material for the other cruiser will be ordered sufficiently early if it is ordered next year.

Senator Keating - Is that the complete naval programme for the next four years ?

Senator MILLEN - - Certainly not. It is the minimum programme. In addition to the ships which will be built here, there are two more submarines which will be obtained from British yards. These will furnish the whole of the vessels which Admiral Henderson recommended should constitute the Navy up till the end of 1919.

Senator Rae - With an improved plant one would expect that the vessels would be built quicker.

Senator MILLEN - No improvement in the plant will add to the stocks at Cockatoo Island. There is only one place at which we can lay down the keel of a boat like the Brisbane.

Senator Keating - That is all the more reason why we should establish a dock at a place like Hobart.

Senator MILLEN - Now that the honorable senator has directed my attention to that matter I shall have great pleasure in looking into it. I would only like to add that -

The substitution of cruisers for destroyers entails some little variation in tlie matter of personnel, but it is not anticipated that there will be any difficult}' on this score, as recruiting in Australia is now on a sound basis, and has exceeded expectations.

That is the answer to the statement of Senator Pearce that the present Government have no programme. This shipbuilding programme is put forward as a minimum, and one which, supplemented by other vessels which the Department will require, and which other Departments will require, will, I venture to say, provide a sufficient amount of work to keep Cockatoo Island Dockyard going during the next four or five years.

Senator Rae - Does the Minister's statement mean that the building of commercial vessels will be undertaken?

Senator MILLEN - I do not know whether Senator Rae is referring to the building of vessels for other Departments, or to shipbuilding for outside firms.

Senator Rae - I mean for other Departments.

Senator MILLEN - The Customs Department and the Defence Department both require the construction of a good many launches, &c.

Senator Long - The most commendable part of the Minister's declaration is that the Government propose to find the money with which to give effect to this programme out of revenue.

Senator Rae - Does the Minister mind telling us how he came to be converted to that idea ?

Senator MILLEN - The interjections of my honorable friends show how little ground Senator Pearce had for his statement that we have no programme. The fact that they now recognise that there is a programme which will require to be paid for induces them to ask where the money is to come from.

Senator de Largie - This is the most comical thing I have ever heard of.

Senator MILLEN - To the honorable senator nothing is so comical as truth. I would now like to say a word or two in regard to the labour difficulty at Cockatoo Island. It is undoubtedly serious, and that seriousness arises from two things - an insufficiency of labour, in spite of all that has been said to the contrary by Senator Pearce - an insufficiency which is practically admitted by the secretary of one of the largest unions there. It has never been disputed that there has been a shortage of labour there of late.

Senator de Largie - Hence the hanging up of the Naval Base, the construction of the transcontinental railway, &c.

Senator MILLEN - Senator de Largie sees at once a very close connexion between men who are employed ito build railways and the skilled workmen who are required in boilermaking.

Senator de Largie - The Government apparently cannot get men to do anything.

Senator MILLEN - It is a very fine certificate for the present Government that since they have been in office employment! nas been so plentiful that it is difficult to find men to undertake it.

Senator Turley - There are 6,000 names on the books of the Labour Bureau in Melbourne to-day.

Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator can find competent hands amongst them he is at liberty to say that we require the services of 600 additional men at Cockatoo Island at the present time.

Senator de Largie - If they were Labour men the Minister would sack them .

Senator MILLEN - That is a ridiculous statement to make. I appeal to Senator McDougall whether the great bulk of the men employed at Cockatoo Island to-day are not union men.

Senator de Largie - Because you know you could not get them outside the unions.

Senator MILLEN - First, I am told, " You could not get them outside j" and then, "You would not let them in." Which am I to listen to ? The position is that there is a shortage of labour there, and Mr. Salter has made two recom mendations, one that we should try to make up the shortage by obtaining men who are not now recognised as fully qualified boilermakers to do some work requiring less skill, and the other to introduce a system of piece-work. I believe both proposals, particularly the latter, will be extremely distasteful to the men employed at Cockatoo Island. Am I to approve of Mr. Salter's report, and so signify my desire that he should immediately try to introduce the piece-work system ? I know perfectly well what would happen if I did. When I see the papers outside clamouring for instant and drastic action, I ask myself whether they ever consider the responsibility which rests on me in trying to bring about the necessary changes there by such means as will avoid any dislocation of the work now going on. I am not free to devote all my time to this matter, but I have placed myself in direct communication with the union there in order that I may put before them the point of view of the manager, hear what they have to say, see how far it may be possible to put Cockatoo Island upon an improved basis, and ascertain if ifc can be done with the entire co-operation and cordial support of the men themselves.

Senator Pearce - How would you scream about the dictation of unions if a Labour Minister dared to do that?

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator may use that sort of political claptrap if he likes ; but I regard the position as far too serious to. be jeopardized by hasty action of any kind. I am not to be influenced by the extravagant declarations of journals ordinarily friendly to my party, or to be perturbed by the gibes of my honorable friend opposite. I shall go ahead in the course I have marked out for myself, to get face to face with the men, and see whether we cannot devise some system which they will agree to accept, and which will remove many of the difficulties under which the Cockatoo Island Dockyard labours to-day. The matter concerns them as workmen there as much as it does myself as representing the Department.

Senator Guthrie - There are no difficulties with the workmen at Mort's, which is a similar institution.

Senator MILLEN - I am not dealing with Mort's. I have given the best guarantee a man can give of my desire to insure that the working conditions at

Cockatoo Island shall be such as will enable matters to proceed smoothly. Had I wished to take other and more drastic action, I could possibly have done so with results which would have been very undesirable to Cockatoo Island itself. I do not propose to do it, but mean to see if it is not possible, by friendly conference with the men, to arrive at an understanding which will, at any rate, give us a larger supply of labour than we have at present.

Senator de Largie - The men would sooner be starved than take employment from such a Government. They starved the poor railway workers at Kalgoorlie into submission.

Senator Oakes - Mr. Rosser, a New South Wales labour union leader, said that Mr. Joseph Cook gave the men a better deal at the. Federal Capital strike than the previous Government did.

Senator MILLEN - There is not a man at Cockatoo Island to-day who is getting less, and large numbers are getting more, than the State award.

Senator Pearcesays that Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice's report on Naval Bases was made in December, and that nothing has been done. He cannot pretend that he has not read the report, and if he had cared to be honest with himself - I say nothing about being honest with the House - he would, have told the House that Sir Maurice clearly indicated in it that further information was required before he could make definite recommendations to the Government. The. honorable- senator went on to say that Sir Maurice had stated that the base at Jervoise Bay had been fully explored, bores put. down, tests made, and examinations completed. To show how partially Senator Pearce has read the report, as a matter of fact Sir Maurice left here detailed instructions for a great many more tests to be made, other bores to be put down, and further examinations to be completed. The honorable senator also knew that there were recommendations from Sir Maurice that he wanted further information, but he did not mention this to the House. He simply stressed the fact that Sir Maurice had said that certain bores, examinations, and surveys had been completed.

Senator Pearce - To enable him to decide for Jervoise Bay.

Senator MILLEN - There is not a word in the. report to show that Sir Maurice said it was sufficient to enable him to do so. If it is so, it is an accusation that Sir Maurice has written down that he has already enough information to enable him to decide, but also recommends the Government to spend money in order to enable him to get further information.

Senator Pearce - He has decided, and you will not admit it.

Senator MILLEN - He has given no indication to me, either in an official document or personally, that he has made up his mind.

Senator Pearce - He tells you where to put down that bore.

Senator MILLEN - When he put that down, I asked him, " Does that, indicate that you have- reasons for deciding in favour of Jervoise Bay ?" He said, in effect, " No; butthe geological formation from there southward is so similar that a shaft put down anywhere will tell me what I wantto know. The only reason it is goingdown is that it is nearer your camp where the workmen are, and therefore it is handier to get through with it." Yet Senator Pearce has deliberately stated that Sir Maurice has advised us that he prefers Jervoise Bay, and that we aresuppressing the truth. There is absolutely no justification for that assertion.

Senator Pearce - Then what are you putting the shaft down there for?

Senator MILLEN - Because Sir Maurice said he wanted to ascertain by testing the ground whether it was possible to put a dry dock in there. Senator Pearce had turned the dry dock down.

Senator Pearce - Why test that ground if you are not. going to have it at Jervoise Bay?

Senator MILLEN - Because the geological formation from there south was so similar that the shaft, if put down anywhere, would tell Sir Maurice what he. wanted to know.

Senator Pearce - Geologically north it is the same.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator may say so, but Sir Maurice did not.

Senator Pearce - Does he say it is different ?

Senator MILLEN - I had no need to, ask him about it, and did not. Had I been in a position to tell him that Senator

Pearce, the great geologist and engineer, could assure him on the point, probably he would have treated the honorable senator's opinion on these matters as seriously as I Jo myself.

Senator Pearce - Why not admit that you wanted to waste the time ?

Senator MILLEN - Because that is an unjustifiable libel. Every action taken by the Government has proceeded on the assumption that Admiral Henderson recommended that Cockburn Sound be thoroughly examined first. All the honorable senator did was to have an inspection, and a big banquet prepared for all and sundry, bringing them in from the highways and byways to celebrate the fact that his Government were going to establish in Western Australia a big Naval Base.

Senator Pearce - That is a romance.

Senator MILLEN -It sounds like a romance when you read the account and see.the bills that were paid for it.

Senator Pearce - Banquet! It was a case of ginger-ale and a sandwich.

Senator MILLEN - If there was not a banquet there, it was the only public function that my honorable friends had without one, but undoubtedly there was a banquet and a public demonstration there. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice has a reputation behind him, and is not likely to fool it away to please anybody. The fact remains that he has not only left instructions that further tests were necessary before he could give a definite opinion - although Senator Pearce could give an opinion months before without any such test - but he also left detailed instructions as to how those tests were to be carried out.

Senator Pearce - Those tests were carried out to the letter.

Senator MILLEN - They are not finished yet.

Senator Pearce - They were completed when you came into office.

Senator MILLEN - The tests which Sir Maurice wants have not yet been completed.

Senator Pearce - All that Admiral Henderson asked for were completed.

Senator MILLEN - What Admiral Henderson asked for was never attempted until this Government came into office - that was, a thorough exploration of Cockburn Sound. It suits Senator Pearce for political reasons, to enable him to get a move on on the eve of the elections, to regard what was done during his term of office as a full and thorough examination of that place. This Government decided to call in Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, not being satisfied with the professional advice available in the Department, where works of this kind, involving large sums of money, were concerned - I suppose in Cockburn Sound alone £2,000,000 was involved - and knowing how easily and frequently money is lost in modern works because of faulty engineering. Having done so, the only thing to do was to follow his advice. He comes along and says, " The information you have is good enough as far as it goes, but before I, an eminent engineer, with a particular knowledge of this class of work, can decide anything, I want further information." He directed that that information should be obtained. It has been obtained, and sent on to him from time to time. Until he forwards us the definite plans which it is part of his contract to supply, indicating whether the work is to be proceeded with, it is not possible to make any considerable headway there. The only thing that can be done is to do some preliminary work, quite small as compared with the major undertaking, which can be pushed ahead. I do not know what Senator Pearce wanted the Senate to believe when he made this serious allegation : that he assumed that Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice had told the Government, " If you want to play with your money, go on sinking a shaft." What about his reference to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, when he first came here, as an understrapper in the engineering world ? The gentleman upon whom he was relying was Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, and he does no good to his own political reputation or standing when he refers to a man at the head of his profession as an understrapper. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice is pne of the three gentlemen selected by the Admiralty to act as advisers with regard to works of that kind.

Senator Pearce - I said he was an understrapper as compared with Sir John Coode, the head of his firm, who had already reported on this site, and not as compared with any of your officials.

Senator MILLEN - He was referred to in the press report as an understrapper.

Senator Pearce - I said that last year, when debating the matter and reading Sir John Coode's reports. I then said, " The manyou have called in now is an understrapper of this firm." I did not use that word to-day, and you know it.

Senator MILLEN - Perhaps I ought to apologize to Senator Pearce for assuming that what he said last year he means this year, but he did taunt the Government with bringing out what he called an understrapper. There was no comparison about it in the newspaper statement.

Senator Pearce - I said as compared with Sir John Coode.

Senator MILLEN - The papers did not report it in that way. The honorable senator made a definite statement.

Senator de Largie - Let us have the newspaper report.

Senator MILLEN - It is not difficult to supply it, and I will see that my honorable friend gets it. Senator Pearce forgets that time has passed since Sir John Coode made his report, and I doubt if Sir John is still in the land of the living. A firm may have existed ten or fifteen years ago, but those in subordinate positions then would be at the head of affairs now, because the older men pass away.

Senator Pearce - Sir John Coode's report stands.

Senator MILLEN - It does; but does the honorable senator still say that Sir Maurice is an understrapper to Sir John ?

Senator Pearce - Cockburn Sound is still there as it was when Sir John Coode reported on it.

Senator MILLEN - It is a strange thing that when I wired to the Navy House for a copy of Sir John Coode's report, they said they had not got it.

Senator Pearce - We had it.

Senator MILLEN - It is strange that they knew nothing about it. Sir John Coode was never thought of down there until after this matter came up, and the late Government heard that he had previously made an examination of these banks; so they wired to the West to get a copy of his report, and had some trouble in getting it..

Senator Pearce - I saw his reports, and read them before any of the preliminary work was done.

Senator MILLEN - Before I pass from references to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, let me say that I hope that Senator Pearce will tender me an apology in the course of this debate.

Senator Pearce - I think the honorable senator owes me several apologies.

Senator MILLEN - Some time ago, the honorable senator asked me for copies of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice's report, and I sent them to him. Then, in a statement he made in an interview with a representative of the press, he charged me with having furnished him with only a portion of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice's report. I complain of the statement, because when he sent me a letter I rang him up and told him that I was sending him the report. Then he rushed into print and accused me of having furnished only a partial report, or portion of the report, after I had given him an assurance that I was sending him the lot. Senator Pearce did not correct his statement next day, and did not even say that he was mistaken. But he slipped away, leaving the matter at that stage. I know what party fighting is, but surely there is such a thing as acting in a decent and manly way in matters of this kind ! I now give Senator Pearce an opportunity of repeating his statement that the report' I sent him was only a partial one, and that I was suppressing something.

Senator Pearce - I say now that the honorable senator wasl suppressing the fact that Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice recommended Jervoise Bay as the spot for a naval harbor.

Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator repeats that statement, there is only one little word with which I can describe it. I have given the assurance that there was not a word or a letter in Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice's communications' to me to show what his final choice was. Any man who says the contrary is a liar.

Senator Pearce - The proof is the putting down of the shaft.

Senator MILLEN - The shaft is being put down where Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice suggested that it should be put down. Senator Pearce made a statement to the press' conveying the impression that I was suppressing a portion of the report. There was not a vestige of truth in that statement. The honorable senator must know it, and by this time, if he possessed the instincts of a man, he would have withdrawn the allegation he made.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator must acknowledge that the shaft is being put down there.

Senator MILLEN - How many times must I explain the matter? The point is not where the shaft is being put down. The point is whether I was informed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice that he had selected Jervoise Bay. I say that if any man says that I was, he is a deliberate and wicked liar.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is getting strong.

Senator MILLEN - There is1 only one way to deal with a man like Senator Pearce.

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