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Wednesday, 20 April 1904

Mr CHAPMAN (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows -

Magazine Rifles.

We have now in the Commonwealth 5,931 magazine rifles in excess of the number required for arming the peace establishment. A further supply of 5,000 is in process of shipment, and may be expected to be delivered at an early date. With this delivery the number of magazine rifles would more than provide for the number required for the war establishment on the General Officer Commanding's organization scheme.

Action has also been taken to provide for a supplyof the new short end Enfield rifle (which is an improved magazine rifle) adopted by the British War Office. The issue of this rifle is expected to commence this year; and an order has been placed with the War Office authorities for a first supply of 5,000.

It is also proposed, subject to Parliament voting the necessary funds, to provide on the Estimates for the coming financial year for a further order of these rifles.

Martini-Enfield Rifles.

In addition to the above magazine rifles, we have in the Commonwealth over 34,000 MartiniEnfield rifles - a good serviceable weapon, firing the same ammunition as the modern rifle.

Martini-Henry Rifles.

There are also over 24,000 Martini-Henry rifles, which certainly could be made use of in the event of an emergency.

Taking into account the 5,000 magazine rifles now in process of delivery, the Commonwealth Government, since taking over the Defences, has added over 18,000 rifles to the stock of magazine rifles in the Commonwealth.

With the view of maintaining and increasing the stock of magazine rifles, a Magazine Rifle Fund has been formed; and as the rifles are sold, either to Rifle Clubs or to members of the Defence Forces, the money is paid into this fund, and a further supply is then ordered to replace them.

Arrangements have been made by which members of the Rifle Clubs can purchase magazine rifles (as far as the present stock will admit) on a deferred pay system.

A certain proportion of magazine rifles and Martini-Enfield rifles are also issued on loan to the Rifle Clubs.


SmallArm Ammunition.

With regard to the supply of ammunition for the rifles, not only has the reserve of ammunition been brought up to the peace establishment, but it has now been brought up to the war establishment, which provides for 500 rounds 'per rifle, in addition to the amount of the annual expenditure.

The Colonial Ammunition Factory, at Footscray, is now capable of turning out some 18,000,000 rounds per annum, and is at present actually delivering at the rate of 1,000,000 rounds per month.

The stock of cordite required for the manufacture of small-arm ammunition is maintained by the Government, and there is an ample stock to provide for more than ayear's supply, as well as what is on order and in process of delivery.

I may mention that in the late Boer war, with 250,000 British troops operating, the total expenditure was only some 66,000,000 rounds of ball cartridges, spread over a period of practically three years. Our reserve is more than equal to the average expenditure for one year under these conditions.

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