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Thursday, 9 November 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - If Senator Walker has any doubt upon the question as to whether these vessels are to be kept for social purposes for Ministers, the best way to dispel it is for him to undertake a voyage outside the Heads in the Protector.

Senator Walker - Of what earthly use are they?

Senator PEARCE - Each of these vessels has been docked and certain repairs have been effected, so that they have now a long life before them.. They are quite good enough for use for the training of the Naval Reserve. Of course, we recognise that their guns are obsolete. They are not fighting ships of a modern type. But we are putting an up-to-date gun on each of them, so that they will be quite good enough for training the Naval Reserve. The amount which we propose to spend for that purpose does not represent one-tenth of the cost of a second class protected cruiser if we had to buy one for training purposes. As these vessels can enter all our coastal ports, pick up youths there, and give them their training, they will perform a useful work.

Senator Millen - From what the Minister says, the men who have been trained on these vessels will be good sailors.

Senator PEARCE - No doubt. They will have an opportunity of proving their seafaring qualities. Apart from the Naval Reserve, we want these ships for recruiting purposes. On her last visit to Launceston the Protector remained there only a day or two, but during that period she took on board no less than twenty recruits, all of whom were of a very fine type. These vessels will bring recruits here, where they will be turned into the Naval Barracks and put through a course of drill.

Senator Walker - Are recruiting and enlisting the same thing?

Senator PEARCE - Yes.

Senator Walker - Does the Department give them the shilling ?

Senator PEARCE - No; it merely gives them their pay.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales) £10.4]. - I notice here a proposal in regard to the Northern Territory. Some accusations of extravagance in finance have been made against the Government; but when I look at the items which are grouped under the heading of " Northern Territory," I fail to see how any such charge can be justified. For instance, for " artesian water bores, also wells and dams on overland route on Macdonnell Ranges and Tanamai gold-fields, and opening up stock routes," the Government have screwed up their courage to ask for a vote of £2,000. This, it must be remembered, is in a country where labour is dear. I do not know what will be the cost of an artesian well in the Northern Territory; but I do know that when these wells were first put down in New South Wales and water was obtainable within a reasonable distance of the surface, £2,000 used to be regarded as a fair amount. Of course, I am aware that since then the operation of boring has been very much cheapened, but I venture to say that the average cost of an artesian well is £1,000. I do urge upon the Government that they should be a little more lavish in their efforts to open up the North ern Territory. Certainly, if they intend to develop that territory, they will have to proceed much more boldly than they propose to proceed in the light of these figures.

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