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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator READY (Tasmania) .- I take advantage of this opportunity to bring a matter which I regard is of some importance before the Minister of Defence. Quite recently a number of horses were purchased in Tasmania for our Expeditionary Forces. Amongst the officials appointed to carry out the work was a Mr. George Peisse, of Bridgewater. This gentleman has had some rural experience, but has evidently not had much experience of judging horses. A very credible informant tells me that his qualifications are not such as to fit him for a position of the kind. He was asked to purchase horses throughout Tasmania, but was given to understand that he should not pay more than £16 per head for them. I believe that subsequently the limit to which he was allowed to go was increased, iu order that he might be able to purchase some decent animals. I understand that this gentleman purchased for the Commonwealth some of the most worn-out and aged crocks in the island of Tasmania.

Senator Long - Such a limit as £16 was not placed on the purchase of horses on the mainland.

Senator READY - Is that so? Some of the animals this gentleman purchased were so old and worn out that for very shame's sake the military authorities would not send them to the front. I believe that there are now four or five horses in the Mowbray Remount Depot at Launceston which are absolutely useless. One is over twenty years of age, and another is probably over twenty-five years of age. I think that when we appoint a man to purchase horses for the Commonwealth we should hold him responsible in some way for the horses he buys. I ask that the Minister shall make a full inquiry into this matter. If, as my informant suggests, there has been corruption, and if this mau has been giving high prices for inferior horses with a view of getting something out of the business for himself, a strict inquiry into his conduct should be made. I hope that the Minister of Defence will assure me that such an inquiry will take place.

Senator Long - One could not expect to get much of a horse for £16.

Senator READY - That may be so; but the honorable senator will scarcely contend that an old crock over twentyfive years of age is worth £16. I think that the gentleman responsible for the purchase of these horses should be called to book for a waste of Commonwealth money.

Senator Millen - Who appointed him ?

Senator READY - He was, I understand, appointed by the Defence authorities of Tasmania to carry out the work.

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