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Friday, 17 June 1904

Mr WATSON (BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - My colleague, the Minister of Defence, has taken notice of the statements of Lt. -Col. Neild to the extent of showing how far they are from being correct. He has taken that step publicly, though I do not know whether the Minister's contradiction conveys all that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro desires. Most of us, while admitting that the condition of our armaments and the equipment of our forces is not all that we wish, know that the condition of affairs is not nearly so bad as it has been represented to be by the statements published by Lt.-Col. Neild. My honorable colleague has pointed that out, and has, I think, definitely disposed of the general body of the assertions put forward by that officer.

Mr CHAPMAN - Does not the Prime Minister think it wise that a contradiction should be sent to the English journal in which the statements of Lt.-Col. Neild have appeared ? Does he think that a very reserved statement, such as he has just made, to the effect that our armaments are not as good as we should like them to be, is sufficient? Would it not be wise, in the interests of the country, that a definite statement as to the rifles we have should be made, and sent to the journal in question ?

Mr WATSON - I will bring the matter under the notice of my honorable colleague.

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