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Wednesday, 7 July 1915

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I desire to refer to a matter which I raised in this chamber some time ago. On that occasion I. asked the Minister of Defence some questions in regard to the dissatisfaction which exists amongst th© employees of the Colonial Ammunition Company. I was credibly informed that quite a number of those employees took exception to the retention of the services in that company of certain men of German birth, or German extraction. To> the first question which I put to the Minister I received the reply that, as the result of inquiry one of the employees had been interned. Subsequently I asked whether the person interned was the man who was charged with the responsibility of accepting or rejecting ammunition, and whether or not he was a Commonwealth employee. In reply I was told that he was a Commonwealth employee, but that, though he was of German extraction, he was not born in Germany, aid that his services had been retained. "Upon that subject I merely wish to say, on behalf of a large number of employees at the Colonial Ammunition Company's works, that a feeling exists amongst them that he ought not to be there, and especially that he ought not to be charged with the responsible task of either accepting or rejecting ammunition. I have since been credibly informed that the employee from these works who was interned as the result of inquiry, has since been liberated and reinstated in his former position at the factory.

Senator Pearce - I do not know whether the honorable senator is aware of it, but he is not correctly quoting my replies to his questions.

Senator KEATING - I have no desire to misrepresent the Minister. His reply to my second question reads -

A number of the Colonial Ammunition Company's employees alleged that the testing officer was of German parentage, and objected to his accepting or rejecting ammunition The facts are that the employee complained of, who was born in Australia, but whose grandfather came to Australia from Germany, does not accept or reject ammunition, but merely assists the testing officers at proof and examination of small arms ammunition. The two testing officers are British-born, of British parentage.

I Save nothing further to say on that matter.

Senator Millen - Is the German to whom reference is made in that answer the man who was interned ?

Senator KEATING - No. But I am informed that there are quite a large number of employees at the factory who think that this man should not occupy the position that he does, and that while he occupies it justice is not being done to the country. In regard to the employee who was interned as the result of inquiry, I am now credibly informed that he has been liberated and reinstated in the tool room of the Colonial Ammunition Com pany's works. I do not know whether he is a Commonwealth employee.

Senator Millen - It is ah extraordinary thing that he should be interned one week and allowed to resume his former position soon after.

Senator KEATING - That is my information. I returned from Sydney only yesterday, and to-day I have been busily engaged on personal matters in connexion with the war. I have brought forward this question in order that the Minister may make inquiry into it with a view to ascertaining whether it is a fact that this man has been liberated and reinstated in his former position, and if so, what is the justification for the course that has been adopted. I am not now presuming to pass judgment upon the action which has been taken.

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