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Thursday, 25 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - The duties for which this item provides should notbe imposed. I do not know that we have in Australia any manufacturers of rifle barrels, so that it cannot be said that -these duties are designed to build up a local industry. The Commonwealth Small Arms Factory does not compete in the open market. The Defence Department is getting ready for the next war by dismissing operatives from that factory and allowing much of its valuable machinery to remain idle. No reduction is being madein the Headquarters Staff, but men engaged in the manufacture of rifles in the Commonwealth Factory are turned off at practically a moment's notice. If the Ministea for Defence (Senator Pearce) were to ask us to-morrow to agree to a vote of £100,000 to be expended on importations of swords, bayonets, and other things covered by this item, we should do so without comment, but here we have a proposal that private firms shall not be permitted to bring in such goods without paying heavy duties upon them. Surely in time of emergency stocks of guns, rifles, swords, and bayonets in private warehouses would be as useful as if they were in the store-rooms of the Defence Department. The Minister, perhaps, does not view with equanimity the prospect of the people being able to supply themselves with these arms. He fear's, perhaps, that they might turn them against their real enemies within and not outside Australia. I refer to those who make it hard for them to live - to the enemy that controls Governments and makes the many pay for the comfort and luxury of the few. I move -

That the Houseof Representatives be requested to make sub-item (c), British, free.

Request negatived.

Request (by Senator Gardiner) negatived -

That the House of Representatives be requested to make sub-item (d), British, free.

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