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Thursday, 7 December 1911

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) . - There is one point that I should like the Minister to make quite clear to us. I understand that, whoever may happen to be in command of our own Navy, will have secret instructions from the Government. But this Bill provides that, whenever our Navy may be acting with any portion of the Imperial Navy, the senior officer present shall take command. That being so, if the senior officer 'be an officer of the Imperial Navy, will he not have secret instructions from the British authorities, and if those instructions should clash with the instructions given by the Commonwealth Government, which will prevail ? Is it not possible that our Navy may be placed under the control, for example, of the officer in charge of the China Fleet, and that he will actually ignore the secret instructions issued Dy the Commonwealth Government ? In other words, is it not possible that, under this Bill, we may hand over our own Navy to the charge of a British officer without the Commonwealth Government being consulted in any shape or form?

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