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Wednesday, 5 May 1915

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- I understand from your ruling, sir, that under this proposal honorable members are not at liberty to discuss the broader question of where the Small Arms Factory ought to be established. I am not concerned with whether we have only one institution of this kind in the Commonwealth, or whether every honorable member has a small arms factory in his own constituency. That seems to be the idea of some honorable members. The motion affords me a convenient peg upon which to hang a question of great interest to the public. I listened attentively to the observations of the Assistant Minister of Defence, who did not tell us whether the adoption of this motion will have the effect of increasing the supply of rifles that are available for use in the Commonwealth. Apropos of quite a number of questions which have been put to him from both sides of the House, I wish to point out that rifle clubs have been established all over the country, and that their great need at the present time is a sufficient supply of rifles. If this proposal be adopted, can the Assistant Minister hold out any hope that a greater supply of these weapons will be forthcoming to rifle clubs, so that in future these institutions may not die of inanition ?

An Honorable Member. - And ranges, too.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to discuss details.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not intend to do so. All I desire to know is whether the Government propose to continue their support of these clubs without providing them with the means for continuing their existence.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must not go into that matter.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Assistant Minister of Defence hold out to these clubs any hope that they will he granted a larger supply of rifles in the near future ?

Mr SPEAKER - I would point out that the honorable member is discussing a question which is entirely foreign to this motion. If I permit him to do that, I cannot reasonably decline to allow other honorable members a similar degree of latitude.

Mr Joseph Cook - It relates to the motion.

Mr SPEAKER - Last year Parliament enacted legislation which provides that all works involving an expenditure in excess of £20,000 shall be referred to the Public Works Committee for inquiry. When the report of that body is presented to Parliament, honorable members will be allowed the fullest opportunity of discussing it in all its bearings; but it would be quite unreasonable to expect me to permit a general discussion on a motion of this character. I cannot allow it.

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