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Thursday, 29 April 1915

Mr CHANTER (Riverina) .- I move -

That this House resolves that it is expedient and urgently necessary for the Government to at once establish horse-breeding stations in order to create and maintain a full supply of suitable horses required for military and other public services.

The motion speaks for itself, and I have no desire to unduly occupy the time of the House in discussing it. The necessity for the course I propose must appeal to every honorable member. It is in no way a party question, and I desire the House to approach it from that point of view. Already the cost to the Commonwealth for the purchase of horses, for both military and civil purposes, has been enormous. No doubt, the expenditure has been largely increased by the present deplorable war, but, even after the war is over, we must recognise the fact that the Commonwealth will be called upon to maintain and supply a very large number of horses to meet the military and civil requirements. In entering upon an enterprise of this kind, the first consideration is that the horses can be reared at a very much lower cost than the Commonwealth is compelled to pay at the present time. Secondly, the particular types of horses suitable for the Government requirements can be produced in the way I indicate. Country members, who know the points of u horse and the necessity of having particular types of animals for different classes of work, will sympathize with the Government, particularly the Defence Department, in the difficulties they have had to encounter in obtaining a suitable class of horses. Of course, in creating and maintaining stations such as I am suggesting, it would be necessary to place in charge experts who have practical knowledge of the classes of horses required. That our horse stock will be more and more depleted as the years roll on we have already ample evidence. Horses of a military type have been leaving Australia for years past, and they have not been going to our people within the Empire. Japan particularly has had purchasers in Australia, and thousands of the best horses, that ought to have been retained for our defence requirements, have been lost to the Commonwealth. On several occasions we have, had opinions expressed in the House as to the best uses to which the Northern Territory can be put. I have had the privilege of spending some time in the Territory and travelling hundreds of miles through it. I have seen the northern portion, and I approached the southern boundary as far as Oodnadatta. Even between Port Augusta and Oodnadatta, territory which many people would be inclined to condemn a3 useless, I saw plenty of country admirably suited for the rearing of horses. The best horses for military and civil purposes are not bred on what is known as level country. The horses which are hardiest and truest to strain are bred on somewhat hilly country, of which there is a large area in the Northern Territory. The expense of creating stations of this kind would not be very great. It will be necessary, of course, to have a stud.

Mr Thomas - Should not this proposal be referred to the Public Works Committee ?

Mr CHANTER - What I am proposing is not a public work, but a public utility, and it will become more so as the years roll on. I have not gone into details or quoted statistics as to the immense cost to the Commonwealth Department of purchasing horses for the military and civil requirements. I desire the House to affirm the principle that it will be to the best interests of Australia as a whole, as well as a helpful factor in utilizing the Northern Territory, that the Government should establish at the earliest possible moment horse breeding stations, not to interfere or compete with the private breeders, but merely to supply the requirements of the Government departments.

Mr Riley - That would be part of the Defence scheme.

Mr CHANTER - I think it would. Those, briefly, are my views; and keeping in mind my promise to give other honorable members an opportunity of speaking on the question before the dinner adjournment, I shall say no more, but merely recommend the motion to the House.

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