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Wednesday, 30 June 1926

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I should like to know from the Minister if expert advice has been obtained as to the most suitable sites for aircraft stations. I raise the question because whilst immense sums of money were spent in the selection of naval bases they were found to be unsuitable.

Senator Elliott - Those sites were selected on the advice of British experts.

Senator LYNCH - And subsequently they were condemned by other British experts. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds of the taxpayers' money has been absolutely wasted, so I should like to think that the greatest care has been exercised in the selection of aerodrome sites. . I need only mention the position with regard to the Cockburn Sound Naval Base in Western Australia, and the Flinders Naval Base in Victoria, to show that there is a wide difference of opinion between experts as to the suitability of such places.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator cannot say that we did not accept the best advice then available. It was the advice of the British Admiralty.

Senator LYNCH - Yes; but what is the opinion to-day concerning those naval bases?

Senator Pearce - Expert opinion changes. What an expert says is right to-day, other experts a few years hence will say is wrong.

Senator LYNCH - And, unfortunately, the people have to "pay the piper." Can the Minister say that diligence was displayed in the selection of those naval bases, upon which millions of pounds have been spent?

Senator Pearce - They were selected on the best expert advice then available.

Senator LYNCH - It is true that Admiral Henderson came to Australia and cruised about. I do not know whether he made a diligent search for the best naval base site in Western Australia. It has been said that he did not. At all events, the opinion to-day of men who should be in a position to know, is that the Cockburn Sound site was not well chosen. By comparison the expenditure on aerodromes should not be heavy ; but I should like to know if the Imperial authorities have been consulted, and also if they have been advised of our experience in connexion with the selection of naval bases.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Home and Territories) [3.27]. - The aerodrome sites at Point Cook and Richmond, New South Wales, were selected after consultation with civil, naval, military, and air authorities in Australia. I may state that the Australian advisers are capable of holding their own with experts from any other part of the Empire. They had experience in the recent war, and their technical knowledge is quite as good as that of any other authorities in the world. The British Government was not consulted. We relied upon our technical advisers, who recommended the sites mentioned as the most suitable.

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