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Tuesday, 4 September 1906

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - The matter stands exactly as it did when I took office, and, I think, also when the two, preceding Ministers took office. However, this is no laughing, .matter; because there are great difficulties in the way of obtaining a suitable range for Brisbane and neighbourhood. Honorable senators know that at present a reserve is being used for the purpose, but practically on sufferance. We have been looking out for a range for a long time past, and certain of the military authorities chose a site at Sandgate. This land, however, is in connexion with a Roman Catholic orphanage, and the owners strongly object to any portion of it being used for a range.

Senator Givens - Did not the Marine Board also object ?

Senator PLAYFORD - Yes ; the Marine Board first gave permission, and then they objected to the land being used for the purpose, When I was in Brisbane I went over the site, and came to the conclusion that, if we could find a suitable range anywhere else, we ought not to deprive the Orphanage people of the land, on which they appear to set much value. At the present time a thorough examination, is being made of a site at Woolston, which is situated about half way between Ipswich and Brisbane ; and I have received a report from which it appears that the land is in every way suitable. The trouble, however, is that it is so far from Brisbane that it will cost the men is. 9d. or 2s. for a return ticket.

Senator Givens - How much further from Brisbane is this site than the site at Sandgate ?

Senator Turley - It is just a mile further.

Senator PLAYFORD - I know that a great deal of fuss was made about the cost of travelling to the Woolston range. At present I understand that the people of Brisbane are not willing to permit the extension of their cemetery to the portion of the cemetery reserve which is now being used as a rifle range at Toowong. If the Department can purchase the land they occupy there we shall be able to establish a very good range, which is almost in Brisbane, since it is connected with that city by a tram service. The members of the rifle clubs interested will be only too pleased if we can permanently secure that site for a. range.

Senator Drake - Can the range. there be made safe? I ask the question, because there has been one legal action in connexion with it already.

Senator PLAYFORD - It can be made perfectly safe. That will involve only thealteration of a road now made to the top. of Mount Cootha. The Commonwealth Government would, of course, have to meet the expense necessary to alter that road. I have instructed the officers of the Department to make inquiries as to whether it is possible to get the cemetery reserve now occupied into the hands of the Commonwealth for the purposes of a rifle range. If that be found to be possible there will be no further trouble in connexion with th matter. If we cannot secure that land it appears to me that we shall have to establish the range at Woolston, where a large proportion of the land that would be required belongs to the State Government. Although the States Governments make as high a charge as they can for property transferred to the Commonwealth, I think we should get the land at Woolston for something like a reasonable price.

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