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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Mr CARPENTER (Fremantle) . - 1 do not know whether I am justified in occupying time in discussing the amendments. I am not certain that the honorable member for Dalley was serious when he moved his amendment.

Mr Wilks - I am as serious as usual.

Mr CARPENTER - That may not be saying much, because the honorable member has some reputation for jocularity, and therefore we never know whether or not to take him seriously. The impression is gaining ground that the amendment has been moved with a view to embarrass the Government, but I should not like to accuse the honorable member of having any such object. I would point out, however, that he is proposing to add to the agreement a condition which would assuredly prevent it from being ratified. I feel very strongly upon the question of having our work done in Australia, and I do not wish to see the subject trifled with. If I thought that the amendment would serve any good purpose I should certainly support it, but I feel that it would only place obstacles in our way. If the amendment is pressed I shall support the honorable member for Hindmarsh in amending it.

Mr McCay - The. proposal would then be more impracticable than ever.

Mr CARPENTER - That is a matter of opinion. The honorable member for Dalley is evidently not an expert in the matter of docks and dockyards. He has endeavoured to make it appear that a dock and a dockyard 'are so distinct that the honorable member for Hindmarsh does not know what he is proposing. There would be no more difficulty in establishing a Commonwealth dockyard than in building in

Australia the ships to constitute the new mail fleet. The establishment of a Government dockyard is bound to be brought about in the very near future. I believe that we shall very soon have the nucleus of an Australian Navy, but the equipment of a dockyard for the purposes of building a mosquito defence fleet would be a simple matter compared with the establishment of the works necessary to enable us to build large sea-going vessels. The time may come when we shall have to enter upon the constiuction of large steamers, but we had better begin bymerely making provision for the building of the vessels essential to our defence. I shall vote against the amendment unless the honorable member for Dalley consents to the addition of the further words proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I should prefer to see both amendments withdrawn, because the question is too big to be adequately considered at this stage.

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