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Friday, 22 June 1906

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - I should like some information as to the intentions of the Government in regard to a very important matter. If our defences are to be of any use at all, there must be some means by which the Forces can be adequately armed without our having to go 12,000 or 14,000 miles for weapons and ammunition in case of emergency. Something should be done by the Government towards, the establishment of a small arms factory, or even of a large arms factory in Australia. What would be our position if the mother country were engaged in a life and death struggle with a European Power or a combination of European Powers? Such a thing may never occur - we hope that it will not - but there is the possibility, and it must be faced. In such a contingency we should have to defend ourselves ; indeed, it would be our duty to adopt that manly course rather than to hang on to the skirts of the mother country, and to ask her to defend us. It is absolutely necessary that in such circumstances we should be in a position to adequately arm our soldiers. What should we do if. our uninterrupted sea communication were cut off? We should be absolutely dependent upon some European country for our supply of arms and ammunition.

Senator McGregor - We could send to Japan for them.

Senator GIVENS - But Japan is oversea, and there is a possibility that in time of war our free and uninterrupted sea communication might be cut off. If we are to be independent and self-sustaining in this respect, we must establish a factory in which both large and small arms of every description, as well as ammunition of all kinds, can be manufactured. Another point is that, even in time of peace, big guns are often thrown out of repair, and that in time of war, when such occurrences would be far more frequent, we should be unable to make them effective.

Senator Fraser - If We had noS the mother country to look after us the enemy would soon blow our factory into the air.

Senator GIVENS - That is absolute unadulterated bunkum. We have in the Commonwealth nearly a million able-bodied citizens, and if we were only prepared to

Senator Fraser - Did the honorable senator's party fight under the British flag on that occasion?

Senator O'Keefe - W - What has that to do with the question?

Senator Fraser - It has everything to do with it.

Senator GIVENS - Our party did not hoist the Chinese flag.

Senator Fraser - I know the flag under which it was fighting.

Senator GIVENS - If ever I fight, I hope that I shall be found doing battle under the Australian flag, and for the maintenance and defence of our institutions. I think that Senator Fraser will agree that our preparations for defence should be as efficient and as effective as> possible.

Senator Fraser - Certainly.

Senator GIVENS - We cannot have an efficient force if our people are liable, in an emergency, to be without arms or ammunition. That liability will be always present until we establish a factory in which we can not only manufacture all the guns that we require, but carry out repairs and make sufficient ammunition to give our troops a full supply even when our free communication with the outside world is cut off. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us an assurance that the Government have in contemplation, at all events, the establishment of the nucleus of a factorv such as I, and, I believe, the p'eople of Australia, desire, and that steps will be taken as early as possible to put in a plant and engage the workmen necessary to manufacture everything we require in the way of arms and ammunition.

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