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Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr BEALE (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Supply) - I saw a report about this matter, and asked the American Embassy to supply me with a copy of the official report. The embassy has done so. It is true that the American army is standardizing upon the new rifle mentioned. There was some disappointment in some quarters that the United States of America has not seen fit to standardize on the F.N. rifle as Great Britain and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers, as well as Canada and Australia, have done. However, that is entirely a matter for the United States. The important thing is that their rifle takes the same ammunition as the F.N. rifle, so that there is complete interchangeability in the most important element, which is the ammunition. The decision of the Government of the United States has had no effect at all on Australian planning. We propose to push ahead with the decision to make the F.N. rifle in this country as fast as we can.

Mr Calwell - Is the American rifle better?

Mr BEALE - The American rifle is only marginally different from the Australian rifle. The suggestion which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made last night that the American rifle is very much better than the F.N. rifle, is quite wrong. The official statement of the American authorities concedes that there are only marginal differences between the performances of the two rifles. The Australian and British Governments, and the governments of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers, are completely satisfied with the performance with the F.N. rifle.

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