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Tuesday, 27 October 1964
Page: 1282

Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) . - Quite frankly, I am not satisfied with the Ministers reply. He referred the Senate to Page 1887 of "Hansard" of 14th October on which appears a reply given by the Minister for Supply in another place to a question that had been asked of him. The Minister told us that the Minister for Supply had said that a reply of the kind sought would have gone well beyond the limits of question time. Yet this matter is the subject of controversy and has been the subject of questions in the Parliament. Now when the estimates for the Department of Supply are under discussion and consideration by the Parliament, I suggest, is the very time for this matter to be raised. The Minister said that undue emphasis had been given to it, but so far as the Australian people are concerned and so far as Army personnel are concerned, there is obviously some grave deficiency somewhere. If this ammunition is manufactured by the Department of Supply, surely the deficiency must be in the Department of Supply itself. The Minister for the Army has admitted that a confidential report was made by the Director of Ordnance Services on ammunition supplied to and in production for the Department of the Army. Whilst the Minister for the Army stated that the Military Board did not agree with the confidential report that had been submitted, nevertheless concern must have been expressed by a senior military officer for such a report to have been made.

Of a total amount of £4,598,576 worth of ammunition delivered by the Department of Supply to the Department of the Army, £557,626 worth was defective, lt was necessary for the Department of Supply and the Department of the Army to join forces in an intensive research programme, following a joint scientific technical mission which visited ammunition production centres in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. This matter, therefore, was obviously not regarded lightly by either the Department of Supply or the Department of the Army. Quite frankly, I sympathise with the Minister, because he is not in charge of this Department and one cannot expect him to have expert knowledge immediately available at his fingertips, but 1 feel that the Senate and the people of Australia are entitled to a full explanation by the Department. Therefore, I move -

That consideration of Division No. 765 be postponed.

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