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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr STORRER (Bass) . - I am of opinion that the defences of the Commonwealth would be far better managed if honorable members did not know so much about them. Instead of a certain sum being placed upon the Estimates to permit of the necessary works being undertaken, and instead of relying upon our expert officers to manage the affairs of the Department in a secret way, every item - of expenditure is canvassed in this House, so that the information supplied goes forth to the world, with the result that everybody knows just as much about our own business as we know ourselves. The defence of Australia, I contend, is not upon a sound footing.

Mr Johnson - Does the honorable member approve of voting money in the dark?

Mr STORRER -As a business man, I appoint a certain individual to discharge certain functions. I hand him certain money, but I do not proclaim to the world what he is to do with it.

Mir. Johnson. - According to the honorable member's dictum, there is no necessity for Parliament at all.

Mr STORRER - If the honorable member will notify me when he has concluded his remarks, I will proceed. I contend that the defence of the Commonwealth is badly managed, and that there are too many honorable members in this Chamber endeavouring to control it. As one who is anxious to see our defences placed upon a sound bas'is, I say that the carrying out of these works should be left to our experts. If we have not confidence in those experts1, let us appoint others in whom we have confidence, instead of advertising to the world all our weak, as well as our strong, points. When the honorable and learned member for Angas was speaking a few minutes ago, he pointed out that under the present method of debiting works expenditure to the States, Tasmania is called upon to pay £21,000, whereas under a per capita system she would have had to contribute £29,000. Had he gone back for a period of three years, he would have noticed that the expenditure of that State upon a per capita basis would have be'en £50,000, whereas under the present system it was £51,000. Also he would have discovered that during three years the expenditure of Western Australia upon a per capita basis would have been £70,000, whereas the actual expenditure was £186,000.

Mr Frazer - The honorable member is getting provincial.

Mr STORRER - I think that we need to become provincial when money is spent in that WAA.

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