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Wednesday, 20 July 1904

Mr WATSON - Last week the honorable member for Franklin asked me what steps, if any, had been taken in connexion with the Southern Tasmanian Forces, since the recent unfortunate trouble in that State. At the time I was only able to state that I would have, inquiries made. I now have the following information to offer: -

Provision is being made on the Estimates, 1904-5, for the placing of the Military Forces in Tasmania upon the same footing as regards pay as their comrades in other States, i.e., by conversions from volunteers into militia.

In view of the large additional outlay involved, it is not considered practicable to proceed at present with the reconstruction of the corps recently disbanded; and it is proposed, therefore, to postpone the consideration of this question until the financial year 1905-6.

The grant of militia rates of pay in Tasmania represents an increase of about ' £6,000 ; but, owing to the decrease in the number of troops by 484, the nett increased expenditure involved will be about £4,000.

Sir John Forrest - Does the proposed change embrace all the troops?

Mr WATSON - Yes.

Sir John Forrest - That is not the case in any other State.

Mr WATSON - There are some troops that are admittedly volunteer coips, and it is not proposed to pay those. Under the new scheme proposed by the General Officer Commanding, a certain proportion of the troops in Tasmania are to be placed on the footing of militia. That intention was not carried out last year, owing to the desire of the late Treasurer to assist'the Tasmanian Government; but this year we propose to spend . £4,000 in converting the volunteer corps into Militia Forces-

Mr Storrer - In the meantime, Hobart is without defences.

Mr WATSON - I can say nothing as to that.

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