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Friday, 9 August 1901
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Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I recognise that. The Bill also omits to deal with the police force. I think honorable members will, agree with me that in no part of the world is a finer body of men to be seen than the police force of Australia. These men have been drilled, and are familiar with the use of firearms. Many of them are expert shots, and their services would be invaluable in times, of emergency. I believe that in Queensland the police force are brought within the provisions of .the Defence Bill, and I think that this Parliament might very well follow the example of that State. The best-trained soldiers would be of little use unless armed with modern weapons, and provided with a plentiful supply of ammunition, and in order that we may always have these requirements at hand, I would urge upon the- Government the necessity of establishing factories in all the States. According to what we have read of recent years, when two nations go to war it is invariably found that one of them was quite unprepared for a contest. It should therefore be our aim. to be- always prepared by having a plentiful supply of arms and ammunition, and the Government ought to take this matter in hand and not leave our supplies to be furnished by private enterprise. There is little reference in the Bill to any system of naval defence, and possibly it would be better to legislate on thisbranch of our defences in a separate measure. Mention has been made by several honorable members of the cost of battleships, and from these statements it appears that the expenditure that would be involved in providing a fleet adequate to the protection of our coasts would be utterly beyond the reach of this Commonwealth. For some years to come it would be wise for us to leave ourselves in -the hands of Great Britain, so far as naval defence is concerned, instead of plunging tile country into an outlay of many millions of money. We are at present contributing £126,000 per year towards the Australian auxiliary squadron, and it would be better, even if we doubled this amount, to continue under the protection of the- British navy. At the same time I should like to see a beginning made in the establishment of a purely Australian navy by the building perhaps of one ship at present, and then gradually increasing the number year after year. As our own squadron increased in size and efficiency, our contributions towards theauxiliary squadron might be gradually lessened. The canteen question is one of great importance to our defence forces, and I hope that in the beginning of our history as a Commonwealth we shall prohibit the sale of intoxicating drinks in all military canteens. The highest military authorities condemn the system in the strongest terms, and in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and in the interests of the young men who will form our defence force, I hope that this Parliament will be unanimous in removing temptation as far as possible. The Bill is a good one, but far from being perfect, and I am sure that honorable members on both sides ' will do their best in committee to make it as complete as circumstances will permit.

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