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Friday, 11 June 1915

I note a report in the Argus of even date of a statement made by you in the Senate yesterday regarding a factory at Randwick, New South Wales, which might, with advantage, be utilized by the Government for the manufacture of arms and ammunition. Further, I note a statement by the Minister of Defence regarding shells. He stated that the " difficulty seemed to be, .not in the manufacture of the shells themselves, but in the manufacture of the fuses." I desire to draw your attention to the following important facts bearing upon the above statements : -

The mechanism of time and percussion fuses consists of accurately machined parts, principally in gun-metal, a copper tin alloy, and certain small parts of steel.

To procure these in quantity and to take necessary degree of accuracy requires the services of " turret lathes," or of almost similar screw-making machines, and of accurate presses.

The works referred to by you are preeminently equipped for such work, possessing, as they do, firstly, three very fine screwmaking machines and a full range of highest class power presses.

Using these machines it would be possible, without employing much "high-grade" labour, to turn out a large quantity of parts for fuses or any other accurately dimensioned parts of arms or ammunition.

I am able to speak with authority on this matter, as I spent some time at the works in question, having been sent over from Melbourne to attend to the interests of the gentlemen who were financing the concern, and being a fully-trained mechanical and electrical engineer who has spent many years engaged in the production of instruments and apparatus of the highest degree of accuracy.

I trust that you will find the above information of use in impressing on the Government the great possibility of assisting the Mother Country in providing munitions.

If I can be of any assistance to you please do not fail to call upon me for any further information in this matter, or in any technical capacity.

Yours faithfully,

e.   Joseph.

I could not speak of the machinery of this establishment in the way in which Mr. Joseph has referred to it, but I knew that it was there. It was imported for the purpose of making the very intricate mechanical parts of the apparatus necessary for wireless telegraphy. Unfortunately, sufficient work of the kind was not available for the firm to keep the plant in full work. I am within the mark when I say that, to-day, 150 young fellows, who served their time in this place, have had to seek work elsewhere, and their services could be secured on the shortest possible notice. They are trained men, and could work the machines in the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. We have been told that one of the difficulties in the way of the establishment of the second shift there was the lack of a sufficient supply of material, but I believe that that difficulty has now been removed. I say that it is the duty of the Government to do all they can in this matter to assist the Mother Country, as Mr. Joseph has said in his letter. I go so far as to say that we should commandeer any premises of this description in which it is possible to manufacture parts of rifles, fuses, or anything necessary for the production of shells. We should go so far as to utilize the services of every mechanic we can secure. We have plenty in our own workshops, and have some of the finest machinery in the world. Work is turned out at Cockatoo Island that would be a credit to any establishment, and would compare favorably with the work done in any part of the world. Having the men, the machinery, and the material, I do not see why the Government should not get to work quickly. There is no occasion to train men for the machines at Lithgow. There may be one or two machines for which trained men are necessary, but the majority of the men who have served their time in a workshop that can turn out machinery that will cut down to the threethousandth part of an inch could, in a single day, work the machines necessary for the manufacture of small arms.

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