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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) - I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if he can give the Committee any information abouti the Council of Defence. I noticed the other day that his representative in another place said that he was not sure how often the Council of Defence had met, if it had met at all, but that he would make inquiries. As the Minister is a member of the Council of Defence, no doubt he knows how often it has met, and how it is managed. I hear that it has given rise to very great dissatisfaction, and I hope that the Government will devise some way of making iti a more effective body than it is. I also wish to draw the attention of the Government to the want of fortifications at Hobart. Although this is one of the most important sea-ports we have, still it is one of the weakest in its "defences.. I certainly think that if we are to have any fortifications our best ports should be properly fortified.

Senator PLAYFORD(South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - We have not yet reached the items relating tq Hobart, but I am only too willing to answer the questions asked by Senator Macfarlane. I made a statement a day or two ago as to the Council of Defence. I will repeat it for honorable senators' information. The Council has met twice. One meeting, at which questions of defence were discussed, was rather important. The second was in regard to a matter which was not very important. The Council consists of the Minister for the time being, the Treasurer, and a number of officers, naval and military. It is called together when the Minister needs its advice. At the present time I do not see any utility in calling the Council together, but there will be a meeting before the scheme, which I hope to be able to lay before my colleagues, is ready. The Council will be able to criticise it before it is placed before the Government for approval or disapproval. The defences of Hobart have not been neglected. We are spending money just below Hobart now. We are manning a - very effective gun to protect that very interesting little city. True, it is but one gun, but it is up to date and efficient.

Senator CROFT(Western Australia).In respect of the defences of Queensland, I wish to ask what has become of the gunboats Gayundah and Palumah ? Are they still being used ?

Senator Playford - The boats referred to are in Queensland, and are being used for the purpose of training the naval

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