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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I propose to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the motion to invite the consideration of the Senate, and particularly of the Minister of Defence, to certain matters which I think it desirable to bring' under their notice. I am confronted with somewhat of a difficulty. I conceive that it is the duty of every man in or out of Parliament at a time like this to oiler any suggestion the adoption of which would help forward the national cause. If any man has such a suggestion to offer, he is little less than a traitor to the country if he fails to give expression to it. If, in carrying out my duty in this regard, any suggestion I have to make may seem to suppose a lack of sufficient activity in official circles, that should not deter me from the course I propose to take. On the other hand, I submit that there is a very serious obligation on the Government to receive such suggestions as they ought to do, in view of the fact that they are submitted for the purpose of making our aid to the Empire more efficient than it otherwise would be. It is in that spirit that I have endeavoured from time to time to offer suggestions in this chamber. I have done so in good faith, and whatever imperfection may have marked my method in submitting them, they were brought forward with the genuine and honest desire which, I believe, animates all members of the Senate, to bring under the notice of the Defence Department certain action which I think ought to be taken in the interests of the Empire. I regret to say that, judging from the replies I have received, and from interjections which have been made, there appears to be a tendency not to receive such suggestions in the spirit in which they have been offered. Although I am disappointed on that account, I feel that I should not be deterred from submitting any matter which

I believe ought to be ventilated because of any consideration of the reception that may be extended to it. I wish to-day to invite the Minister's attention again to the matter of the establishment of a second shift at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. When this matter came before the Senate a little time ago, I directed attention to the fact that the recommendations in the report submitted by the Committee appointed by the Minister co deal with the question could not be given full effect in less than three or four months. I suggested the adoption of an alternative course, which would give us a second shift in a comparatively short time - I think I mentioned a fortnight. I suggested the employment of trained workmen for the purpose. May I remind the Minister of Defence, not with any desire to point to an error of judgment on his part, but in order to strengthen the appeal which I now make, that he assured the Senate that the point I mentioned had been considered by the very eminent gentlemen constituting the Committee, and must have been turned down by them, or they would have referred to it in their reports. Acceding to my request, the honorable gentleman agreed to submit the question I suggested, and we now have the statement from Mr. Ferguson that the course I suggested could be carried out. Let honorable senators not get away from the fact that Mr. Ferguson now says, in the most emphatic way possible, that if we were to ignore commercial considerations, and send trained men into the works, it would be possible to establish a second shift at the Lithgow Factory within the time I mentioned. It is true that Mr. Ferguson urges an objection, and to that I invite the attention of the Minister. Mr. Ferguson looks at the matter as he would have done if he were called upon to organize a second shift at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory under ordinary circumstances. He asks himself what is the best thing to do for this industry as a permanent institution. I say that we have nothing to do with permanent institutions at the present moment. What we have to consider is how to make the Empire permanent. Mr. Ferguson urges as a reason against the adoption of the suggestion I made to introduce trained men that to do so would be to disturb the labour organization. By that I assume that he does not' mean the union organization.

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