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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) . - I support Senator Gardiner's desire to increase the means of defending Australia; but my method of doing so differs from his, because I look forward to the establishment of anumber of factories in Australia, employing thousands of hands in the manufacture of traction engines, locomotives, and similar engines, as a result of the imposition of these duties. The honorable senator seems to think that we can get private firms to keep on hand a sufficient stock of ready-made machines to carry Australia through a war; but he has exploded his own theories by his allusion to the fact that one shell might blow the lot out of existence. In such circumstances Australia would be helpless, because the adoption of his policy would not provide us with the trained artisans to replace them. Surely the honorable senator sees the fallacy of his argument, and that it would be easier to have even a moderate number of men trained in the art of making these machines than to keep on hand in the warehouses of Australia an abundance of ready-made imported machines. I want to see men employed here making them, and, at the same time, making Australia self-reliant and able to stand a siege, instead of being dependent upon importations for the supply of these means of transport not only for our Forces, but also for the commissariat, without which an army would be absolutely helpless.

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