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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) .- The Defence Department is undoubtedly the great spending Department. It is so liberal in its expenditure that it is very necessary for us to keep a close watch upon the demands which it makes upon the Commonwealth. There are some very heavy items of expenditure included in these Estimates, but, as the leader of the Opposition is prepared to assist the Government to pass them, it is idle for me to offer any further protest.

Mr Reid - I merely spoke for myself, and for any honorable member who chose to act upon my advice, but I never dreamed that we should be discussing these Estimates at this hour of the morning. Personally, I think that there ought to be an adjournment of the debate.

Mr BROWN - There are important items in these Estimates which ought to receive fair discussion. At this late hour, however, it is quite impossible to expect intelligent discussion of them.

Mr Isaacs - Upon the Estimatesin chief the honorable member will have a full opportunity of discussing the defence policy of the Government.

Mr BROWN - But I shall not have an opportunity to debate this particular vote. I support the view entertained by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that greater consideration should be given to our naval defence than has hitherto been extended to it. Possibly some reduction, might be made upon these Estimates which would enable that to be done. I notice that it is proposed to spend a sum of £70,000 odd upon the purchase of ammunition and rifles. I should like to know when the Commonwealth is going to manufacture small arms for itself? That matter was discussed at the outset of the Federation, and we were assured that the Commonwealth would move in that direction. But to-day we occupy precisely the position which we occupied then. These are matters which should be discussed, and upon the Estimatesinchief I shall avail myself of the opportunity of debating the Government policy in this connexion.

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