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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr WILKS (Dalley) .- I notice that the sum of £21,000 is provided upon these Estimates for the purchase of small arms ammunition, and a further sum of £15,000 for the purchase of artillery ammunition for our fixed defences. Is it not high time that the Government established its own ammunition factory in Australia, especially in view of the fact that the large stores of ammunition which are now in hand are yearly depreciating ? As a matter of fact, the authorities have occasionally to issue instructions to our forces to fire off some of this ammunition, which has become useless. Only some twelve months ago at Goat Island, in Sydney, certain members of our Defence Forces were amusing themselves, to the great annoyance of the public, by firing off useless ammunition for a period of five weeks. I had to get the medical authorities to interpose, in order to prevent the residents of the vicinity from becoming invalided. If we established our. own ammunition factory, we should not be called upon to waste money in. that way.

Mr Johnson - Does not the use of the ammunition which is at present being manufactured burst the guns?

Mr WILKS - I am aware that the Estimates of the Defence Department lend themselves peculiarly to a display of jocularity, but I can assure the honorable member (for Lang that there is no more serious matter to be faced than the urgent necessity which exists for establishing an ammunition factory within the Commonwealth.

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