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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr CARPENTER (Fremantle) . - I trust that the motion of the honorable member for Lang will not be pressed, I quite agree that it is necessary that hon orable members should be supplied with all the information possible before they are asked to sanction any expenditure. The honorable member's objection to -this item is prompted by the fact that he is unaware of the particular type of gun which is to be used at these forts, and, consequently, he does not know the amount which Parliament will subsequently be asked to vote. But I would point out to him that any such objection should have been urged last year when this work was commenced. The original estimate for the undertaking was based upon a 6-inch armament. If there had not been a question raised as to whether the use of a larger gun was not desirable, the delay which has occurred would have been obviated.

Mr Groom - It was afterwards decided to have plans prepared upon the supposition that 7.5-inch guns would be mounted.

Mr CARPENTER - Yes. That was after the matter had been' brought before the House. I do not think that there will be an increase on the amount originally named; the amount expended may possibly be less than that mentioned in the footnote. We are not asked to vote the total sum necessary to complete the work. We are simply invited to vote £8,000 towards the purchase of the necessary land, and to carry on the work which has been entered upon. I agree with the Minister that it is impossible to say what the total cost will be until we know what guns are to be mounted. The Defence Department should by this time have determined that question, but the fact that they have not done so does not afford a1 sufficient reason for refusing to vote the money necessary to carry on the work, and to pay for the land in process of acquirement. I would urge the honorable member to withdraw his motion.

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