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Thursday, 17 June 1915

Mr FISHER - The answer to the honorable member's questions is -

1.   I have seen the article in the newspaper mentioned which purports to be a report of some remarks made by me at a meeting of the Melbourne Chamber of Manufactures. A comparison of this report, with the reports contained in the two morning newspapers published in Melbourne, shows it to be inaccurate and incomplete in many particulars. I did not make a statement in the terms set forth in the honorable member's question; but, at the same time, I may point out that on pages 4480 to 4493 of Hansard, dated16th December, 1013, it willbe found that the then Prime Minister (Mr. Cook), accepted, on behalf of . his Government, a motion that the Estimates of the Department of Defence be reduced by £1, with a view to material economies being effected in the expenditure of that Department, and that I immediately opposed the decision of the Government, using those words: - " If we in the National Parliament, merely because of a cry of economy, which seems to enjoy a little popularity at the present time, interfere with the efficiency of either our land or sea defences, we shall make one of the gravest blunders that has ever been committed by any Legislature." "A saving of £500,000 would bo very desirable if it could be made without impairing the efficiency of our defence system, but the statesmen of a country must look first to its safety rather than to the saving of a few pounds."

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