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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) .- I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth. The Government have no right to flout the authority whose advice they have sought.

Mr Groom - There is no flouting in the

Mr JOHNSON - That is what the conduct of the Government amounts to. I should like some information in regard to the proposed votes of £8,000 towards the construction of the fort, and acquisition of the site at North Fremantle, and of £580 for the fort and quarters at Arthur's Head. I see by the foot-note that the total estimated cost of these works is £87,000, and that the expenditure incurred up to the 30th June, 1906, inclusive of £24,000, under division 6, sub-division 1, item 10, of 1905-6, amounted to £43,398^ Last year, when we were discussing the estimates for Fremantle, we were told that some change was to be made in the armament. It was first intended to mount 6-inch and 7.5-inch guns at these forts, but it was afterwards suggested that 9. 2-inch guns should be substituted. I should like to know whether the Minister is in a position to give us any information as to the recommendation that has been made in this connexion ?

Mr Groom - That information is in the possession nf the Defence Department.

Mr JOHNSON - The information is desired, because I take it, that the cost of constructing the fort will, to a very large extent, depend on the character of the armament decided upon.

Mr Groom - The question of armament is one for the Defence Department to decide. We merely construct the works when we know what the Defence Department require.

Mr JOHNSON - Yes, but we are being asked to vote a certain sum of money which mav prove to be excessive, if 6-inch or 7.5- inch guns aire mounted in the forts, instead of 9. 2 -inch guns, and I think that we are entitled to know what kind of armament is to be provided.

Mr Groom - I could not give the honorable member information as to the decisions of the Defence Department.

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