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Thursday, 25 June 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) . - I do not know whether the Honorary Minister intended us to take his reminder as a general invitation; but I can assure him that, on this occasion, at any rate, there is no intention to forego our privilege, because this offers, perhaps, the most convenient opportunity to let the people of this country know what they will have to deal with at the forthcomingelections. It is well known, of course, that the Senate has a certain amount of power over a Supply Bill. I have no doubt that my honorable friends on the opposite side would like us to take what might be termed the heroic course;but I can assure them that the challenge which was thrown down has been accepted in earnest, and that this Bill, which is the only measure that now stands between the Parliament and tho people, will not be used by this side to prevent that challenge from being taken up. With the Supply Bill out of the way, the people will have an opportunity of passing judgment upon those who have occupied the Treasury bench during the past twelvemonths. We intend to take this opportunity to let the people know some of the sins- of omission which the Government, have committed during that period, and some of their sins of commission. I do not intend to go over the whole gamut, because that would take too long, and I might, perhaps, be charged with " stonewalling" the Bill. It would be quite beyond the power of one man to remember all the' Government's sins of omission and commission, so I propose to confine myself to the particular blunders of which they have been guilty in the Department with which I was for some time associated, and that is the Defence Department. Regarding their blunders in connexion with the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, I desire to. refer to a couple of articles which have appeared in the official organ of the Fusion party in N ew South Wales. The Sydney. Morning. Herald of the 5th June contains a leading article on this subject, from whichI quote the following passage: -

It is clearlythe duty of the Federal Government to take the grave facts with regard to the condition of affairs at Cockatoo Island, which we publish elsewhere, into its immediate and closest consideration.

The article continues - lt is unnecessary to attempt to allocate the responsibility for the state of affairs now obtaining. What is certain is that no Government, realizing its obligations, darc neglect for one moment the amelioration of the present position. The building of war-ships is a very serious and vital national work, and an important adjunct to the possession of a navy. But it is work that must bc adequate, or it ought not to be done at all. There can be no cheese-paring in this brunch of defence work, for the expenditure of millions of pounds on naval construction depends on the efficient management of the department that controls this expenditure.

Further on, the writer says -

If waste of money and gross delays due to the lack of a system of piece-work, then the Minister must face this problem, even if it be an unpopular and somewhat difficult undertaking. And so forth. Many of the evils at present existing can be removed. It will be the duty of the Government to remove them, if the building of war vessels is to continue in Australia without an excessive drain on the public resources, and a delay in construction which is expensive in itself and a serious drawback to the efficiency of the Royal Australian Navy. The difficulties are great, but the greater the difficulty the greater the opportunity for the Minister of Defence to prove that he has the desire and the capacity to carry through with expedition and thoroughness an essential reform in the defence organization of the Com." mon wca 1th.

On the 16th June, the Sydney Morning Herald published a special article, from which I make this quotation -

In view of the discussion in Parliament, it may be stated that the general features1 of the situation at Cockatoo Island, >as emphasized by the new general manager, have been known to the Naval Board and the Minister of Defence and his predecessor for a considerable time. They were the subject of representation by Mr. Cutler, who was Mr. King Salter's predecessor in the management .of the dockyard, by the Management Committee who controlled the works on behalf of the New South Wales Government, and by -the State Government, when the transfer to the Commonwealth was' made.

The conditions obtaining at the Dockyard w.ere also, it is understood, communicated to the Naval Board by Commonwealth officials some time ago. The report of Mr. Julius on the power plant last year also revealed some aspects of the deficiencies in equipment. The Department has, therefore, ;been in possession of the main facts regarding the Dockyard for at least a year, and in .some respects for a longer period.

Several matters needing reform were from time ~to time deferred, pending the arrival of the new general manager, t .For -some reason (in keeping, however, with the general procrastinating policy adopted with regard to the Dockyard), Mr. King-Salter's appointment was delayed for several months, during which time conditions grew steadily worse. An Advisory Committee was appointed by the Commonwealth Government with a view of selecting' a suitable expert in naval construction for the post of general manager. The Committee comprised Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson (upon whose report the organization of the Royal Australian Navy was based) ; Captain HaworthBooth, naval adviser to the Commonwealth in London; and Mr. Denny, the well-known Dumbarton shipbuilder. After considering a verylarge number of ^applicants, the appointment of Mr. King-Salter was recommended as the first of six names submitted to the Government in May, 1913. Mr. King-Salter was, however, not appointed till January, 1914, and did not arrive in Australia till last March. It is believed that a great deal of valuable time in reforming conditions at the Dockyard would have been saved if Mr. King-Salter's services(which were available) had been secured at an earlier date.

There is reason to believe that the report of Mr. King-Salter has been in the possession of the Minister of Defence for several weeks.

When the late Government took over the dockyard they knew that up till that time only dredges and small launches had been constructed there, in addition to which one torpedo boat destroyer had been reconstructed. They knew that a considerable portion of the machinery had been adapted to the purpose for which it waa used, that some of it was obsolete, some of it out of date and some of it unsuitable. They knew, therefore, that a general reorganization of the dockyard was necessary, and that a considerable quantity of new machinery would have to be purchased before the dockyard could ba made up-to-date for the building of warships. With that end in view, they took steps to have a committee appointed in England to advise them of a suitable man for appointment as general manager. On the 5th May last year, whilst the elections were proceeding, and whilst I was absent in Western Australia, the recommendation; of that body reached the Commonwealth. When I returned from Western Australia the Fisher Government had been practically defeated. It was only a matter of a few days before its members would be leav-ing office, and, in those circumstances, it would have been wrong for me to make any appointment. We made no appointment, therefore, and the papers were left for my successor to-deal with. What happened ? He was scarcely in the saddle before he made a most vicious attack on his predecessor in office in - connexion with the general administration of the Naval Bases, and particularly in connexion with this dockyard. He cannot plead, therefore, that he did not know that a bad condition of affairs existed at Cockatoo Island. Of course he attempted to lay all the blame for these conditions upon the late Government. He attacked us, and we had to accept responsibility. But to-day he has been in office for twelve months with a knowledge of the conditions which then obtained, and he has now to answer to the people of this country for what he has done to put them right.

Senator Millen - Hear, hear!

Senator PEARCE - Let us examine the record of the Minister's attempts to put them right. In the first place, it will be admitted that a general manager had to be appointed. Mr. Cutler was an acting manager. He was not an employe of the Commonwealth. He had made recommendation after recommendation, all of which had been hung up, because of the pending appointment of a general manager. If the present Government decided that they would take eight or nine months to make up their minds regarding the appointment of a general manager-

Senator Millen - They did not.

Senator PEARCE - We shall see. If the Government resolved to occupy eight on nine months in making up their minds about the appointment of a general manager, obviously the wise course for them to have pursued was to act upon some of Mr. Cutler's recommendations so as to overcome the difficulty of which the Minister of Defence made such a mountain upon his advent to office. He came into office in June of last year. He could not say that the committee appointed to advise the late Government in the Old Country was not a committee whose recommendation was worth acting upon, because Admiral Henderson had been in charge of one of the most important dockyards in Great Britain for some time, whilst Captain Hayward Booth was the trusted adviser of the" Government in regard to naval matters at the other side of the world, and Mr. Denny was one of the best known shipbuilders in the Old Country. This committee, after going through the applications, recommended the appointment of Mr. King Salter. The Government, however, took no action to appoint that gentleman as general manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. In reply to certain questions which I put to the

Minister a few days ago, we were informed as to the date when the appointment was made.

Senator Millen - Then why does the honorable senator say that there was eight or nine months of delay if he has that date before him ?

Senator PEARCE - I will tell the Minister. The first question which I asked was -

On what date was the recommendation for the appointment of Mr. King Salter,as manager of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, received from the Committee in Great Britain which was appointed to advise the Government?

The answer supplied was - 5th May, 1913.

The other question put to the Minister reads -

Upon what date was the appointment made ?

The reply was -

The appointment dates from 30th January, 1914; but the definite offer was cabled Mr. King Salter on 31st December, 1913.

That was six months from the time that the Government assumed office.

Senator Millen - Then why does the honorable senator go about the country, saying that it was eight or nine months?

Senator PEARCE - The fact is that Mr. King Salter did not definitely accept the appointment till February, 1914, and he did not take up his duties until March of this year. My statement is that the Government allowed a period of nine months to elapse from the time they took office until Mr. King Salter entered upon his duties in Sydney. This, too, iri the case of a dockyard which the Minister had declared was in a hopeless state of disorganization, upon which he affirmed we had wasted thousands of pounds, and in connexion with which, according to him, intolerable delays were taking place. If the late Government were guilty of all these things, what must be the sentence on the present Ministry, who, knowing all about them, took nine months to make the appointment of a general manager, and during that period refused to give effect to a single recommendation of the acting manager? If the charge of confusion can be sheeted home to the Fisher Government as the result of their administration of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, what charge can be sheeted home to the present Government, who allowed nine months to intervene before making an appointment?

Senator Millen - As the appointment was offered to Mr. King Salter in December, how can the honorable senator say that we allowed nine months to elapse ?

Senator PEARCE - If action had been taken by the Minister when he assumed office, Mr. King Salter could have taken up his duties much sooner than he did.

Senator Millen - I did take action.

Senator PEARCE - The Minister informed us only the other day that he waited until the High Commissioner came to Australia in order that he might consult him on the matter before taking definite action. Now, Sir George Reid may be a very clever politician, but he is certainly not an authority on naval construction. Yet the Minister declined to accept the recommendation of three competent gentlemen in England regarding the appointment of Mr. King Salter, and preferred to await the arrival of Sir George Reid in order that he might first have a conversation with him on the question. In order to show that the late Government were quite aware of the conditions which obtained at the dockyard, and that they were preparing to take every step necessary to put that dockyard on a proper basis, I come to the appointment of Mr. Julius for the purpose of advising the Government as to the best means of providing an up-to-date power plant there. That gentleman was appointed whilst I was Minister of Defence. We all remember the sensational action taken by the Minister to call public attention to the carelessness of the late Government in this connexion. In order to direct the attention of the electors to the alleged carelessness of his predecessor in office, he dramatically closed down the dockyard on receiving the report of Mr. Julius regarding its condition.

Senator Millen - On receiving advice from the Naval Board.

Senator PEARCE - Advice from only one member of the Board. Was that action on the part of the Minister taken for any other purpose «than that which animated him when he made an attack upon the Fisher Government previously, namely, a desire to create in the public mind an impression that we had entered into a bad bargain, and that the present Ministry had to undertake a Herculean task in putting things right? But supposing that everything which the honorable senator said was absolutely justi fied - that the plant at the dockyard was dangerous to human life - what can be said of his subsequent action? The answers given to questions to-day show that the Government have not installed a new power plant yet - that they have not even called for tenders for it. They have taken out a few of the boilers, but, with that exception, the power plant at Cockatoo Island Dockyard to-day is the same as that which they took over from their predecessors. '

Senator Long - Was there ever such an exhibition of hypocrisy ?

Senator PEARCE - Exactly. When the Minister took the sensational action which he did, he possessed an advantage over us in that he had the report of Mr. Julius in his possession and we had not. But to-day we have that report in our possession, and we are thus able to show that Mr. Julius never said that the plant was dangerous to human life, although the Minister endeavoured to make it appear that he had done so. In giving evidence before a Select Committee which inquired into this matter, Mr. Julius emphatically contradicted the statement that lie had said that the use of the plant was dangerous. I hold in my hand a Parliamentary paper which was printed on the 14th September of last year, and on pages 3 and 4 of it are to be found the only statements which can be in any way construed into indicating weakness on the part of the boilers. Mr. Julius said -

All of them were, I believe, second-hand boilers when installed, and at the present time considerable repairs have to be effected every week-end to keep them running for another week.

The pressure at which they are working, namely, 100 lbs. per square inch, is altogether too low for economic operation, and the maximum quantity of steam available from the whole of the boilers, pressed to their utmost, is quite insufficient to run the engine plant at its full output; and, in fact, at the present time it is difficult to reach 65 per cent, of this figure.

The position at present, therefore, in regard to this power plant may be summed up as follows : -

(1)   The plant, as a whole, is in such a condition as may lead to a complete breakdown at any time, and this condition in the past has frequently caused serious interruptions in the Dockyard work.

There is nothing there about the boilers being dangerous to human life. All this was known to the previous Government, and that is why they appointed Mr. Julius to report and advise them as to the plant that should be substituted for the old and obsolete boilers then in existence. Mr. J Julius goes on to make a recommendation. After the dramatic action of my honorable friend opposite, a Board was appointed to report on the boilers, and on the 7th August they submitted their report, in which they draw attention to the fact that a number of boilers are worn out, but not in any paragraph of their report, although they go into details, do they speak of any of the boilers as being dangerous to human life. Various witnesses before the Select Committee said a worn-out boiler was not necessarily dangerous. It means worn out for economic, effective work. Although the Committee of officers from the Department knew the dramatic action that their chief had taken, and that something desperate was required to buttress him up and save his face, not a word appears in their report as to one boiler being dangerous to human life, working at the pressure at which they were working. The Minister shelters himself behind the Naval Board, but he was. present -at 'the meeting of the Board when the matter was considered. He ought to know that there is a telephone line between Sydney and Melbourne, and that Mr. Julius is on the telephone or could have been reached by a telegram. Yet the simple idea of sending a telegram to Sydney and asking Mr. Julius whether the boilers were dangerous to human life never occurred to him. They were so anxious to star this .particular item in their policy that it never occurred to them to send a telegram to Mr. Julius.

Senator Millen - Yes, it did.

Senator PEARCE - The Minister never acted upon it at any rate. Did he allow the Board to stop him from doing so 1 Does the Board run the Minister, or does the Minister run the Board ? The Minister shelters himself behind Mr. Julius' report, and so does the Board, and yet they never thought to ask Mr. Julius himself, who, above all others, ought to have been able to; say if the boilers were dangerous. All they wanted was to draw attention to the Cockatoo Island dockyard and make political capital out of it. They were anxious to produce a dramatic effect by closing down and telling the people that the Labour Government kept -men ^working on boilers where there was only the thickness of a piece of paper between them and eternity. The Select Committee of the Senate most effectually dealt with this matter. In their report, ordered to be printed on 20th November, 1913, they said -

In the course of the inquiry your Committee found that the partial closing down of the works was unwarranted, as the evidence clearly showed.

Senator Millen - Your friends.

Senator PEARCE - Does the honorable senator say that this report -was not justified by the evidence ? The Committee proceed to back up their finding by the evidence of the witnesses whom they called.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Were any of them asked if the boilerswere dangerous to human life 1

Senator PEARCE - Yes.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - What did they say ?

Senator PEARCE - I will read the evidence bearing on the subject. .Mr. Julius, the engineer appointed to examine and report upon the works, gave the following evidence : -

7.   Does any part of your report say -that tha boilers- are dangerous to life ? - It certainly does not say so; the report is to the effect that the boilers are practically worn out.

8.   lt does not say that the boilers are dangerous to human life? - In the presence of other information a person might put that interpretation on it, but my report does not say so.

26.   Apparently you do not think that there is anything in your report that would justify the action of the Naval Board in closing down the works on one day? - Not taking -my report alone, possibly not.

Engineer-Commander Barnes, Chairman of the Board that surveyed the boilers, who ought to know something about the matter, if any one does, because he actually surveyed them .after the sensational closing down, and is an /inspector on the works, says - 385. You do not think there was any immediate danger of the explosion of the boiler? - No ; I do not think so. 496. Was there any general idea, prior to this stoppage taking place, that such should occur ? - No ; it came as a surprise to me.

He was the gentleman representing the Naval Board at the yard, and had been there ever since the Warrego was put together. That he is a competent engineer is proved by the fact that the honorable senator put him on the Board to survey the boilers, as chairman. Mr. H.

Kidd, Consulting Engineer, gave the following evidence: - 584. As a professional man, of many years' standing, you think that the action taken by the Naval Board was, under the circumstances, somewhat unnecessary? - Yes; had they apprehended any difficulty, they could have got one boiler taken off at a time, and quietly examined the whole lot. 585. You do not think there was any occasion to discharge men, and reduce the working power of the plant? - Certainly not.

And Mr. William Kidd, late Establishment Engineer at the dock, testified as follows : - 654. You would not take it to mean that, they were dangerous? - Undoubtedly not. 676. The Naval Board expressed the opinion that if the condemned boilers had been worked much longer' under the conditions disclosed, an explosion would have been inevitable? - That was impossible. 681. In your opinion, if the boilers that were in use previous to the survey were in use today at the working pressure, they would be perfectly safe? - Yes, in my opinion.

Senator Millen - Still the Naval Board expressed the opinion quoted in question 676.

Senator PEARCE - I do not know; ibut the chairman said so. Mr. P. Holmes, assistant foreman boilermaker at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, who should also know something about boilers, was asked- 870. And what would you say to the statement that if the boilers had been worked much longer an explosion would have been inevitable ? -I think they were wrong; I would say that in my opinion they were making, a mistake. 871. You believe there was no danger to life or limb ? - None. 872. You think it was a ridiculous and extreme statement ? - Yes.

Mr. Woolnough,Engineer; Constructor, another member of the Board of Survey; testified - 2089. Could you not. have surveyed these boilers at Cockatoo Island without throwing them all down at the one time?- Mostdecidedly. It is not necessary to survey more than one boiler at a time.

Yet my honorable friend shut the lot. down, sheltering himself behind the Naval Board, who acted on the recommendation of one man - the Third Naval Member, whom Senator Millen still retains on the Board.

Senator Millen - Do you think he ought to go?

Senator PEARCE - That is for my honorable friend to say. The responsibility, is, his. He cannot have the matter both ways. He cannot shelter himself behind an officer, and say that that officer gave him wrong advice, and still retain him in the service, saying that he is perfectly satisfied with him.. He must either say, " The advice was wrong, and I am. doing wrong in retaining on the Board a man who gave me advice which showed him to be incompetent," or he must say, " The advice was right,' and I stand by it and by him."

Senator Millen - Hear, hear!

Senator PEARCE -If that is the honorable senator's attitude, he must take the responsibility of Captain Clarkson 's advice, which he acted upon.

Senator Guthrie - If Clarkson was right, Woolnough was, wrong.

Senator PEARCE - Clarkson recommended that the . boilers' should all be blown down, and Woolnough said there was no need for it. He also gave the. following evidence : . - " 2171. Had the use of the words " practically worn out " in this report any relation to the question of danger, or did it relate to the stability of the boilers for a longer lease of life? - After hearing Mr. Julius' evidence-, I should say that ho probably referred more to the installation of the new power plant than to anything else. 2172. And that he did not think he was warranted in considering whether the boilers were or were not dangerous? - He has said that he did not, and I am prepared to accept that statement, and to believe that he used the word " practically " in that sense. 2183. I feel confident that the boiler could have been repaired in a few days? - I thought at the time it was possible to stud it, and. that that would be a comparatively cheap job, but the men to whom I have referred asserted that the plate underneath was in such a condition that they could not risk studding it, but that they would have to take it off, drill it right through, and rivet it. 2184. It was only on account of the cost of repairing the boiler, that it was condemned? - Yes.

Captain Clarkson gave- the- following evidence, which is interesting, as showing what was in his mind : -

I have reported very strongly against. Cockatoo Island as a naval ship-building establishment, and there are several reasons why. First of all, it is an island, and difficult uf access. It cost money to get material there, and to get material away from it. It is difficult from the point of view of labour; the men cannot live near it, and it takes them a long time to get there and to get to- their homes afterwards. They probably have to leave home in. the morning with a very poor meal, and get a scratch one in the middle of the day, and. it is very late at night before they get another. That is- working under poor conditions. With regard to the island itself, the area is limited. There' is a. very big' rock in. the centre, with, a limited amount of flat land around. You cannot lay out shops to the best advantage; that is, you cannot lay them out as shops are laid out in other parts of the world, so that the raw material comes in at one end and goes through a series of operations until finally fixed on the ship. The place is as hot as the ante-chamber to Hades in the summer. It is hot because that huge rock in the centre absorbs the heat and keeps off the wind. Whichever way the wind is blowing the men are working under fearful conditions, which men ought never to be asked to work under. The blacksmith foundry, and all those shops, are worked under shocking conditions; and I object for that reason. I contend that any work done there will be done at great cost. Nobody gets any good out of it - the Government do not get any good, nor do the men, nor any one. I have always contended that it would be perfectly easy to find another site in Australia, and equip it with up-to-date, modern machinery in every particular, at a less cost than has been incurred for Cockatoo Island. We should then be able to turn out our ships cheaper and quicker.

He recommended that we should not take over Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and actu1 ally recommended us to establish a new dockyard for the building of war-ships at Port Lincoln, South Australia. Would the Senate follow that advice ?

Senator Guthrie - It is the best place in the world.

Senator PEARCE - It is one of the finest harbors in Australia, if not the finest. No one can say anything against it as a harbor. He says it would cost money to get material to Cockatoo Island, but, if that be so, what would it cost to get material to Port Lincoln ? Unless one got a full ship-load of material, everything less than a ship-load would have to be transhipped from some other port in Australia.

Senator Guthrie - The stuff is there.

Senator PEARCE - What stuff?

Senator Guthrie - The Iron Knob.

Senator PEARCE - I think that Senator Guthrie will have a better acquaintance with the geography of South Australia in three months' time than he has now. The Iron Knob is at the other end of the Gulf. Again there is no coal supply at Port Lincoln or anywhere near it. There is no coal supply in the State of South Australia, and all the coal required for the dockyard, if established there, would have to be brought from New .South Wales. There is no labour supply at Port Lincoln. The total population of the place is somewhere about 1,500, and I ask honorable senators to contemplate a proposal to establish a dockyard at a place where there is a very small population, and hundreds of miles from any place where there is a considerable population. Any surplus labour required at any time would have to be brought a great distance from one of the capital cities of the Commonwealth. I did not take that advice.. If Senator Millen likes to take it and establishes a Naval Dockyard at Port Lincoln he must accept the responsibility. I think the honorable senator would have some difficulty in getting Parliament to vote the money and in persuading the people of Australia that that is the place to establish a dockyard for the building of war-ships. When 'this gentleman condemns the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, I want the Senate and the country to know that the same gentleman made the recommendation to establish a dockyard at Port Lincoln. After a recommendation like that from him, I did not take very much notice of Captain Clarkson's objections to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard.

Senator Oakes - I suppose the honorable senator thought Cockatoo Island an ideal site.

Senator PEARCE - I did not; but I say that it had already reached a certain stage of development that could not be said of any other dockyard in Australia.

Senator Guthrie - That was the only thing to be said in favour of it.

Senator PEARCE - Yes. It was not an ideal site, but it had reached a certain stage of development which permitted a start to be made with the construction of war-ships there more quickly than at any other -place in Australia. Moreover, we had entered into a contract with the Government of New South Wales for the construction of war-ships. That contract was not. proceeding satisfactorily, and we very soon realized that it would be more satisfactory to take over the dockyard altogether.

Senator Rae - That condition of things was largely brought about by friction between Captain Clarkson and others.

Senator PEARCE - I make no secret of the fact that Captain Clarkson opposed both root and branch the taking over of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. He has continued his hostility to it ever since. Whenever he can give it a bump by a hostile report he never neglects to depreciate and defame it. I now come to Mr. Cutler, who was at the time acting manager of the dockyard. Strange to say,

Senator Millennever thought to send a wire to Mr. Cutler to ask him whether he thought the boilers were dangerous or not. The first news Mr. Cutler received of the matter was the intimation to close down the works. That is a nice way in which to treat a man in charge of important works like those. Mr. Cutler said - and this will be found at page x of the report of the Select Committee -

I was in possession of the fact that the Chairman of the Survey Board had stated that he was going to condemn the whole of the boilers, which statement was made before the examination of the boilers had actually started.

That is a singular thing. I should like to ask the Minister of Defence whether he ever followed up that statement? It seems to me that ifc should have been followed up. Here is a charge made by Mr.1 Cutler that the Chairman of the Survey Board had said he was going to condemn the whole of the boilers before the examination of the boilers was started.

Senator Millen - Who said so?

Senator PEARCE - That is the statement made in the evidence I have quoted from Mr. Cutler.

Senator Millen - That was Mr. Cutler's statement.

Senator McDougall - He admits that.

Senator Millen - No one admits it.

Senator PEARCE - Engineer Commander Barnes gives this evidence- at question 431 -

It has been stated that it was the intention of the Board to condemn all those boilers; is there any foundation for that? - No; no foundation whatever. The boilers were surveyed in all true conscience.

Have you heard about that statement? - I heard something this morning. Of course, being a Board, there is a lot at stake. The statement I made to my assistant-

Who is he? - Assistant Overseer McMillan. I said to him, " I am afraid that those boilers will have to be condemned."

That was before the examination of the boilers.

Senator Millen - This is the witness the honorable senator brought in to show that the whole of the inquiries were necessary. The honorable senator rested his case on Engineer Commander Barnes just now.

Senator PEARCE - I rest my case on no one. I give the evidence for what it is worth. Mr. Cutler was asked at question 132-

Can you prove that Commander Barnes said, before examining the boilers, that he intended to condemn them? - Yes; I will substantiate that with a witness if you wish.

By Senator Mullan.- When will it be practicable to get that witness? - Any day you like.

By Senator Guthrie.- Who is he? - The statement was given to me by an assistant overseer, Mr. McMillan. He is to be found at the Dock.

Then follows the evidence of Engineer Commander Barnes, which I have quoted. In answer to question 1607, Engineer Captain Clarkson gave this evidence -

You did not ask the General Manager what was the pressure? - No; I thought it was better to have an independent man to examine and an independent Board to condemn the boilers afterwards. " Condemn " them? - It is a term used in the Navy. To condemn a boiler is to simply examine it, and state what action is to be taken.

That seems to me to be a bit too thin. I do not know whether Senator Keating would be satisfied with an answer like that from a witness. The honorable senator would probably follow it up with a little cross-examination. He would want some proof that to " condemn " means merely to examine.

Senator Keating - It does not mean examination. It means judgment.

Senator PEARCE - At question 1591, Captain Clarkson gave this evidence -

Where does Mr. Julius say that the boilers are dangerous? - I never said he did say so.

Did the Minister of Defence hear that?

Senator Millen - I will bring the honorable senator his minute signed by himself, and he will see from that what I had before me at the time.

Senator PEARCE - In his evidence, Captain Clarkson denies that he said that Mr. Julius stated that the boilers were dangerous.

Senator Millen - Mr. Julius did not say ifc.

Senator PEARCE - There is this evidence at question 1596 -

If they were dangerous after Mr. Julius' report, they were dangerous while you were working them ? - I say that if no repairs were made, and they were being worked at a higher pressure than when I knew them, they were dangerous.

He never wired to Mr. Cutler to know if he was working them at a higher pressure. At the next question there is this evidence -

And you knew they were dangerous? - No; I did not know what repairs had been done, and I did not know at what pressure they were working until the report. I acted on Mr. Julius' report.

Mr. Juliusand every other expert says that Mr. Julius did not say they were dangerous? - . He says that they were worn out.

But he says that he didnot wish to convey the impression that, they were dangerous, and that nobody could take that from his report? - We did.

Senator Keating - Is there anything in the papers to indicate the normal pressure at which the boilers were working?

Senator PEARCE - Yes; the pressure at which the boilers were working was considerably below a dangerous pressure.

Senator Mcdougall - We tested them Up to three times their working pressure.

Senator PEARCE - At question 1605, Captain Clarkson was further examined -

Then, from the knowledge you had, you knew the boilers were dangerous the whole time they were working ? - No, because I did not know what pressure they were working at.

This is the Third Member of the Naval Board dealing with the part of the administration that comes under him. He makes a drastic recommendation to the Minister, and yet he says that he did not know at what pressure the boilers were working at any time. I come now to the evidence of Mr. Manisty, the then Secretary of the Naval Board. In answer to Senator Rae, at question 1911, I find this evidence -

Did each individual member of the Board read Mr. Julius' report right through before proceeding to act upon it? - I read it, and I think that Captain Onslow did so. The Minister read it, and I am sure that Captain Clarkson did.

You proceeded collectively to discuss it? - Yes. It arrived on a Wednesday, together with ft duplicate copy, which, I think, was given to the Minister. Captain Clarkson took the report home with him, with a view of considering it before the Board met next morning.

Would the Board have met next morning in any case? - A special meeting was held to deal with the report. We considered it a serious matter; but Captain Clarkson suggested that we should wait until the following day before taking action.

Yet there was no telegram sent to Sydney

Who was absent from that meeting? - Admiral Creswell was the only absentee.

Was the discussion prolonged? - I should hardly say it was. We discussed it from halfanhour to three-quarters of an hour.

Was a special meeting convened to consider the matter? - I am practically certain that a meeting was convened for that purpose.

Was there any difference of opinion as to the meaning to be given to the words " practically worn out"? - No; but I think a suggestion was made that we should ask Mr. Julius for a further interpretation.

There was then an idea that the phrase might be open to more than one construction? - I thought it was a rather serious action that we proposed, and we considered whether we should obtain from Mr. Julius any further confirmation of his statement. I do not think there was any doubt, however, as to what should be done.

Senator Millen - Mr. Manisty says that there was no doubt as to what should be done.

Senator PEARCE - His evidence continues -

There was a unanimous opinion that " practically worn out" meant "absolutely dangerous " ? - The opinion was held that there was a possibility of danger, and that we should not be justified in carrying on in the face of that report until we had definitely ascertained whether there was any danger.

Yet they never sent a telegram to ask the inspector, if they did not trust the acting manager, at what pressure the boilers were working.

Who proposed that Mr. Julius should be asked to say what he meant by this report? - I think it was the Minister.

The suggestion was overruled ? - It was not taken up.

Was Mr. Julius then in Sydney? - Yes.

How long would it take to send a telegraphic message to Sydney, and to receive a reply? - From four to five hours, or even less at certain periods of the day.

You received Mr. Julius' report on Wednesday, 30th July, and you met on the following morning ? - Yes.

An urgent telegram was then sent ordering the closing down of the works. On whose authority was the meeting convened ? - Thatof the Minister. He was in the office when the report arrived, I think, or else we telephoned to him about the matter.

There was really an informal meeting on the Wednesday? - Yes; we were anxious to get the report, and the Minister told me to let him know as soon as it arrived.

That accounts for the arrival of the report being generally known on the Wednesday? - Yes.

Evidently the Minister must have got an inkling that there was something in the report, and, therefore, was prepared to act as soon as it arrived, because he asked the secretary to let him have the report as soon as it was received. After its arrival, the Wednesday afternoon was allowed to go. No action was taken to get in touch with Sydney or to communicate with Mr. Julius, although there was a doubt in the minds of the members of the Naval Board, and apparently of the Minister,- as to what was meant. Whether it meant dangerous or not, there was no attempt to ask Mr. Julius. But on Thursday morning it was said, " We will close down the works ; throw the men out of employment; create a sensation throughout Australia; give another stab in the back to the idea of the Australian Navy; discredit the idea of war-ship building in Australia a little more-

Senator Keating - No.

Senator PEARCE - Absolutely, yes. It can be seen sticking out a foot right through the piece. The whole thing was simply a diabolical attempt to create in the minds of the people the idea that the building of war-ships here is impracticable, too costly and too cumbersome.

Senator Millen - This is too childish.

Senator PEARCE - It is not childish. It can be seen all along the line.

Senator Keating - Every quotation you have read has been quite to the contrary.

Senator PEARCE - The proceedings of the Naval Board and the Select Committee show that the Government did not want to know what Mr. Julius intended to convey. They did not want to know anything about the boilers. It was sufficient for them to put a strained interpretation on his report and close down the works, so anxious were they to discredit naval construction in Australia, and incidentally to have a hit at their political opponents. The concluding paragraphs of the Committee's report read as follow: -

13.   "The Committee arc satisfied from their inquiries that war-ships for the Australian Navy can be built as well and successfully in Australia as in England or elsewhere.

14.   And your Committee are further of the opinion that the unwarranted closing down of the works appeared to bc with the object of causing a scare that would tend to impress the people of the Commonwealth that a mistake had been made in taking over the dock, and to check the policy of building our own warships in Australia; thus, instead of assisting to carry out Admiral Henderson's recommendations and scheme, the actions of the controlling authorities have tended to retard the development of the dock and the expeditious building of the war-ships.

Senator Keating - As Minister of Defence you brought the parts to Australia and assembled them here?

Senator PEARCE - Certainly, in order to give Australian workmen the first opportunity they had ever had to do anything in the way of construction.

Senator Keating - That is what you call building a war-ship!

Senator PEARCE - At the same time, I may inform the honorable senator that we sent a number of Australian workmen Home in order that they might gain experience.

Senator Keating - I quite agree with you in that, but why not build the parts here and assemble them here?

Senator PEARCE - We had no complaint of any kind.

Senator Keating - No, because you were a Free Trader.

Senator PEARCE - My honorable friend is now supporting, a Government who would build the ships in England if they could.

Senator Keating - I would not support a Labour Government.

Senator PEARCE - When the order for the Australia was placed, the Government which the honorable member was supporting were negotiating with firms in England to construct the .whole of the fleet in England. If he calls for the papers he will find that my statement is correct.

Senator Keating - What did you do as a Minister? You compromised; you brought out the parts and assembled them here, yet you talk about building a warship here!

Senator PEARCE - We at once stopped the thing, and commenced the construction of one cruiser and three tor,pedoes here. If the Liberal party had been returned in 1910, not one would have been constructed here, but the whole, lot would have been built in England.

Senator Keating - Quite the contrary..

Senator PEARCE - That shows the attitude of the Minister' in that regard.: Any one knowing the facts would assume that the Ministry were fully seized of the necessity for a new power plant.: They thought so much of Mr. Julius' report that they took immediate and drastic action. What has been the history of the matter since then? It has been disclosed here to-day. The Select Committee did not sit until October of last year, and the dockyard was closed down some time before then. Here is the history as given by the Minister to-day in answer to my question -

The recommendation of Mr. Julius was received on 31st July, 1013. An agreement was subsequently made with him to prepare plans and specifications, and supervise the work of installation, this agreement being contingent on the necessary funds for the work being sanctioned in the Loan Bill.

Why should it be made contingent upon funds being provided by Loan Bill?

Senator Millen - Where would you get the money if Parliament did not vote it?

Senator PEARCE - If Parliament did not vote the money in the Loan Bill, the Minister could have fallen hack on the Consolidated Revenue.

Senator Millen - You would have had to get an appropriation then.

Senator PEARCE - The fact is that the Government are trying to shelter themselves behind the necessity of a Loan Bill to provide the money for the purchase of the power plant. The money for the specifications would have been a mere bagatelle. There was no necessity to include that item in the Loan Bill, and there was no reason why, immediately after the report of Mr. Julius had been received, the Minister should not have given an instruction for the preparation of the specifications and the plans for the power plant.

Senator Millen - The agreement with Mr. Julius covered more than that. If you read it aright you will see that it says so.

Senator PEARCE - The Minister further stated -

An agreement was subsequently made with him to prepare plans and specifications and supervise the work of installation, this agreement being contingent on the necessary funds for the work being sanctioned in the Loan Bill. The Loan Bill passed on 19th December, 1913. In the meantime Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice had reported on Cockatoo Island, and it was necessary to take his recommendations into consideration.

The present Government live on reports; they do nothing on reports.

The Third Naval Member of the Naval Board had a conference with Mr. Julius in Sydney on 24th January-

That is six months after the first report was put in.

Senator Millen - A month after the report was available.

Senator PEARCE - Apparently the Minister could not have a conversation without a Loan Bill.

Senator Millen - We had to wait till he returned from his Christmas holidays in New Zealand.

Senator PEARCE - Did he have his Christmas holiday in July, 1913?

Senator Millen - He was in New. Zealand at Christmas time.

Senator PEARCE - What was the Minister doing for six months before Christmas?

Senator Millen - Waiting for a Bill to appropriate the money.

Senator PEARCE - The Minister could not have a conversation without a Loan Bill. I can understand him saying that Australia cannot have a Navy without a loan, but now the Government are coming to something dreadful. They cannot have a conference without a loan -

The Third Naval Member of the Naval Board had a conference with Mr. Julius in Sydney on 24th January-

It takes a month after the conference to digest it - and on 24th February Mr. Julius was requested to take in hand the necessary arrangements for the provision of the new power plant. On 26th March Mr. Julius and the general manager, Cockatoo Island, submitted a joint recommendation that tenders be invited alternatively for both steam and Diesel plant.

This was in March, but we are nearly in July again; that is twelve months from the time when Mr. Julius submitted his report, and no tenders have yet been called ; nothing has been done. The money was voted in the Loan Bill on 13th December, 1913, and is still unspent. Chaos still remains at the dockyard, and the Minister says " it is all due to my predecessor." I come now to another expert, Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice. He made this statement -

On the 4th December, accompanied by RearAdmiral Sir William Creswell and Mr. Fanstone,I went in a launch around Sydney Harbor; and made myself acquainted with the general features of the harbor. On the 5th December, accompanied by Sir William Creswell, Engineer-Captain W. Clarkson, and Mr. Fanstone, I visited Cockatoo Island, and was met by Mr. A. E. Cutler and Mr. Carr. We spent all day on the island examining the different work in progress, the general arrangement of shops, and the machinery employed.

He does not think too much of the island or the works there. I want to read an extract, because this expert imported bythe Government at great cost had one good word to say for us, anyhow, which needs to be said at the present juncture, in view of the attempt now being made to put all the blame on the workmen in the dockyard -

I ought toadd that the work which I saw in progress was of good quality, and left very little to be desired. I have, however, no doubt that the work here costs more than it would cost in good modern shops. After careful consideration, it seems to mc that any improvements to be made at Cockatoo Island must be dependent altogether on the programme of ship-building which may be adopted for this yard, and that until such programme is arranged over a scries of years it is not possible to settle to what extent more money should be spent on shops, machinery, wharfs, &.c.

This was on the 24th December, 1913. Have the Government any programme? We are waiting to hear what the Prime Minister has to say.

Senator Keating - Had your Government any programme?

Senator PEARCE - Undoubtedly, and we carried it out.

Senator Keating - In regard to Cockatoo Island?

Senator PEARCE - Yes.

Senator Millen - They had; I will state their programme directly.

Senator PEARCE - The quotation continues -

The cruiser, I understand, can probably be launched in April or May, 1014. If thu slip on which the cruiser is being built is to be used continuously, as is necessary if the yard is to be worked economically, all arrangements for the next ship to be laid down on that slip ought to be well in hand now. When specifications for material have to bc sent to England, when the plates and bars have to bc rolled there and sent out to Australia, it takes a long time to lay down a ship after a decision lias been arrived at to build her.

This was in December, 1913. Have any orders been sent to England? Has Parliament been asked to sanction any proposal for the ordering of more plates for building other ships? Not a word has been heard. " Preference to unionists " has been of infinitely more importance than the Australian Navy. A dead-lock between the two Houses has been of far more importance than getting these works going in an economical and workman-like fashion, and so the Minister wastes his time in political cockfighting, and leaves these, to his mind, less important matters to drift. The quotation continues -

First alternative. - If it is definitely decided to continue building continuously over a series of years at something like the present rate, namely, with one light cruiser and two destroyers on the slips at the same time, all obsolete machinery at Cockatoo Island ought to bc taken out, a power station built, and all the new machinery, and, if possible, some of the remaining old machinery, electrically driven. Advantage ought also to be taken when putting in the new machinery to make » better arrangement of shops, so as to obtain snore economical working.

My second charge against the Government is that they have no plans or proposals. They are simply drifting along, and a dead-lock suits them. The delay with the building of the Brisbane suits them, because they know that as soon as she is ofl the slip it will disclose the fact that they have no plans; that they have made no preparations for the building of any ship to follow her, and that, therefore, men must be thrown out of work and the dock- yard practically laid idle. The Government have planned all through for delay. The whole of their programme for the dockyard for the last year has been delay. Leaving that matter, I will pass to Fremantle, at the other side of the continent, and deal with the provision of Naval Bases. A Fleet without a Naval Base is hampered, cannot move, and certainly would be useless in time of war. The late Government had a programme to provide the Naval Bases necessary for the Fleet. They had Admiral Henderson's programme in that regard, and were proceeding with it. The present Government, as with the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, wanted to find fault with the late Government. They wanted to show the electors that we were a set of incompetents, and so they said, " The Labour Government blundered again at Cockburn Sound. They chose the wrong spot. They acted with insufficient advice. We must get another expert out to advise us." And so they brought out Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, at a cost of 4,600 guineas and incidentals, which will be disclosed when the Budget is submitted in the next Parliament. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice has been here, and gone away. He reported in December, 1913. What is the position after .the Government have had his advice? Cockburn Sound is in exactly the position to-day that it was in when he came out. No sooner did my honorable friend assume office than one of his first acts was to discharge about 100 men employed there in proceeding with the development of the Naval Base. Since then the Government have had about forty or fifty men pottering about and getting in each other's way. They have had the report of an expert. What did he tell them ? For the information of the Senate I shall read what he said -

I arrived at Fremantle on 4th November, and was met by Mr. H. H. Fanstone, Director of Naval Works, and Captain C. J. Clare, C.M.G., District Naval Officer at Fremantle. I spent ten days making an examination of all parts of Cockburn Sound and adjacent land, the harbor and harbor equipment at Fremantle, and the Swan Eiver between Fremantle and Perth. I examined sites for possible quarries, and also the State quarry at Boya. . . The matters requiring further information are mentioned below : -

(3)   Best position in Cockburn Sound for Naval Base. - Although Jervoise Bay was proposed by Admiral Henderson, I considered it advisable to have some borings and soundings south of Jervoise Bay, so that full information might be available for estimating the cost of work at different places. These borings and soundings have now been completed.

They were the borings and soundings necessary to enable Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice to say whether Jervoise Bay was the best spot in Cockburn Sound for a Naval Base.

SenatorRae. - What did he say?

Senator PEARCE - That is known only to my honorable friends opposite. But I know, by implication, what he said, because paragraph 8 of this report reads -

(8)   Graving Dock.- It is a question whether it is possible to build a graving dock at Cockburn Sound on account of the unsuitable nature of the ground. It is difficult to settle this point by borings, and 1 have consequently asked that a pit should be sunk on the land to 50 feet below low-water level, and particulars taken of the pumping required in connexion with the sinking of the pit. A special memorandum on this work has been handed to the Director of Naval Works.

There are three possible points in Cockburn Sound for a Naval Base. These are Jervoise Bay, which the late Government said was the best site ; Case Point, which is 6 miles south ; and Mangles Bay, which is 12 miles south. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice recommended that a trial shaft should be sunk to see if the ground at Cockburn Sound was suitable for the establishment of a graving dock there. Where are the Government putting down that trial shaft?

Senator Millen - At a spot which Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice declared is equal to any site in Cockburn Sound.

Senator PEARCE - That spot is Jervoise Bay. But horses will not drag the information from the Minister that Jervoise Bay was selected by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice. He is too anxious tosave the political skin of Sir John Forrest. I can imagine the Treasurer, in conference with Senator Millen, exclaiming, " For God's sake do not tell the electors of Western Australia that Jervoise Bay is the spot where the Naval Base is to be established, and where a dockyard is to be constructed, because I told them that

Senator Pearcehad made a mistake." The fact remains, however, that the shaft in question is being put down in Jervoise Bay.

Senator Keating - Are we to understand that the late Government recommended Jervoise Bay as the Base for the construction of the Australian Navy?

Senator PEARCE - Nothing of the kind. What I am endeavouring to make the honorable senator understand is that Admiral Henderson recommended the establishment ofa Fleet Base at Jervoise Bay; that the late Government undertook a preparatory survey of that spot, and of other parts of Cockburn Sound; and that, acting on the advice of their responsible officers, they decided that it was the best site available. . They were about to proceed with the works required to make it a Fleet Base, when the present Government - which the honorable senator supports - came into office, stopped operations on the pretext that there waa not sufficient information available; and brought out an expert from England at a cost of £4,600. That expert reported in December of last year, and my prophecy is that the Government will not do anything until after the impending elections, because otherwise they must show that the Fisher Ministry chose the right spot.

Senator Keating - Are we to understand that the late Government were committed to Jervoise Bay as a Fleet Base ?

Senator PEARCE - Undoubtedly, on Admiral Henderson's recommendation. That officer recommended that there should be two primary Fleet Bases, one at Sydney, and the other at Jervoise Bay, in Cockburn Sound.

Senator Millen - He did not recommend Jervoise Bay.

Senator PEARCE - I charge the Government with having, for political purposes, and with a view to scoring off the late Government, cost this country somewhere about £10,000. They expended £4,600 in importing an expert from the Old Country; and they have spent another £3,000 or £4,000 in putting down that trial shaft, which was totally unnecessary, because, as Senator Millen has said, one can determine the nature of the strata at Jervoise Bay, and for 12 miles south of it. Let me tell him that, 5 miles north of Jervoise Bay, the Western Australian Government established a dock, aud the bottom of it fell out into the Indian Ocean. The late Government did not need anything more to convince them that they could not put down a dock at Jervoise Bay. What Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice said, in effect, to the present Government was, " If you wish to play with this matter, you may put down a shaft here. It will kill time." That is all that the shaft is being sunk for. What will happen at Jervoise Bay is what happened at Fremantle - the workmen will strike the Indian Ocean. The people of Western Australia are laughing at the Minister and at the Naval Board for putting down a shaft costing thousands of pounds within a few miles of that ghastly failure which cost Western Australia £200,000 - a failure which was engineered by the Liberal party there. As a matter of fact, that party won an election upon it. With that circumstance staring us in the face, we refused to consider the question of the establishment of a graving dock at Jervoise Bay, and declared that if a dock was to be established there at all, it would have to be a floating dock. The fact that the Government are putting down a shaft there is an acknowledgment that what they did, they did for political purposes, and nothing more. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice was brought out from the Old Country to condemn the late Government. He was sent down to PortWestern with that object in view. Yet what does he say? He says -

This close examination was made so that by means of the knowledge thus obtained, accompanied by examination of the large scale chart, I might be able to satisfy myself that the best site had been chosen for a Naval Base. . . . I have, after roughly estimating the works at each place, come to the conclusion that Hann's Inlet has been wisely chosen as the cheapest site for a Naval Base in Port Western, assuming that it is used for destroyers and submarines ouly.

Dealing with the works which weplanned there, he says, on page 3 of his report -

I have gone through the drawings of the wharf, and other works proposed, with Director of Naval Works, and consider his proposals are generally satisfactory. There may be some small alterations which I will discuss with him before leaving Australia. I should like to add that the work so far carried out at the base seems to me to be of a very satisfactory, although only a preliminary, character.

That is the report of the expert who was brought out to condemn, but who remained to bless.

Senator Millen - Why does not the honorable senator read the passage in which he condemns what the late Government proposed?

Senator PEARCE - He does not condemn the late Government's proposals. What he does condemn is some proposal for a workshop, which never came before me at all.

Senator Millen - And the method of dredging.

Senator PEARCE - He does not condemn the dredging. In that connexion, he says -

I am, therefore, of opinion that a bucket dredger or bucket dredgers ought to be employed for the entrance channel, and a suction dredger with revolving cutter for the turning basin. All the dredgers ought to be able to dredge their own flotation. I understand there are at the present time two bucket dredgers under construction, which it is proposed to use at Flinders Naval Base. Both these dredgers have, under contract, to be able to dredge 900 tons per hour.

Does that condemn what we did in regard to dredgers? Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice recommends that bucket-dredgers be used for the entrance channel, and adds that he understands that two bucketdredgers are in course of construction. I am glad that the Minister has reminded me of those dredgers. It is true that we ordered two dredgers, one of which was to be constructed in Australia, whilst the parts of the other were to be obtained from England and assembled here. Those parts have now been lying in Cockatoo Island Dockyard for three months, and no attempt has been made to put them together.

Senator Millen - Can the honorable senator find the men to do the work ?

Senator PEARCE - Certainly.

Senator Millen - I wish the honorable senator would. The union cannot do so.

Senator PEARCE - I am satisfied that the men can be found.

Senator Keating - The honorable senator must know that the men in the trade will not do this assembling work.

Senator PEARCE - I know nothing of the kind . The Victorian Government have just built a dredger, and I have not the slightest doubt that men can be found to undertake the work of assembling the parts in question at Cockatoo Island Dockyard if proper conditions are offered them and proper wages are paid. Yet these parts have been rusting in Sydney

Harbor for the past three months, and my honorable friend has not done a tap towards putting them together.

Senator Millen - I wish that the honorable senator would find men to do the work.

Senator PEARCE - The late Government let a contract in Sydney to Messrs. Poole and Steele for the construction of one of these dredgers. The period covered bv that contract has now expired, but no penalty has been imposed.It will be remembered that the Government would not extend any consideration to the Western Australian Government in regard to its contract for the supply of sleepers, but when dealing with private firms they have an extremely tender conscience. Evidently they think that it would be cruel to enforce the penalties provided in the case of a contract for the construction of the dredger, and accordingly they have extended the time of the contractors. That is further evidence of their policy of delay. Indeed, delay and procrastination seem to be the chief feature of the administration of Senator Millen in Naval Defence matters. That being so, what else can we expect but wasteful expenditure and discord in the Navy Office? I put these facts before the electors of Australia, backed up as they are by the evidence which I have read from official reports.

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