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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - The explanation which Senator Millen has suggested regarding item 19 is correct. The £9,500 required is to pay off the remaining liability on the plant at the Small Arms Factory.

Senator Millen - Is this the last payment that will be necessary ?

Senator PEARCE - As far as I am aware it is. The sum includes, in addition, the final payment for a subsidiary engine. With that exception, the money is to pay off liabilities previously incurred. The. expenditure of ,£1,000 on improvements and water supply at the military site, Liverpool, is necessary, whether we purchase the area or not. The area has been used for many years as a military training ground, and will continue to be used, whether the Commonwealth acquires possession of it or not.

Senator Chataway - Is the Minister arranging for water supplies at other military areas?

Senator PEARCE - Yes, wherever we can. With regard to the resumption of the Liverpool area, negotiations have been proceeding for a considerable time. Part of the land is owned by the State. Some of it is privately owned. The State Government made the proposal that it should resume the privately-owned land, and lease the whole area to the Federal Government. That has been the basis of negotiations. I understand that finality has not yet been reached.

Senator Millen - Negotiations have been proceeding for years.

Senator PEARCE - I admit that they have been pending a long while, but not for lack of pushing on the part of the Federal Government. I understand that the prospect of coming to an agreement is now more hopeful. One of the factors that was retarding the settlement was the question of the payment of 3 per cent, on transferred properties. That difficulty has now been adjusted, and we are hopeful that we may come to an arrangement. The remount depot, on which we are spending £10,000, is also at Liverpool. The depot is situated on what is known as Cunningham's Farm. We not only have the farm itself, but a large area of land which is used for training horses.

Senator Millen - What is the area of the £10,000 farm?

Senator PEARCE - Between 400 and 500 acres. It is on the bank of George's River, and includes some very good land. It is considered by the military people to be a desirable place for the purpose.

Senator Chataway - The price works out at £22 an acre.

Senator PEARCE - It must be remembered that there are residential buildings and sheds upon the property. Sheds are necessary for the horses, and there must be proper acommodation for the men who look after them. The acquisition has been carried out by the Home Affairs Department, which has expert land valuers upon whom we can rely to see that the Government get a fair deal.

Senator Chataway - Does this amount include the salaries of the land valuers?

Senator PEARCE - No, they are officials of the Department. Whether the whole of the Liverpool area is acquired or not, it is considered desirable that this remount dep6t should be owned by the Commonwealth. We now have horse depots in all the States. The horses for the artillery are given a certain amount of training during the week, and are also used to some extent for cultivation. At our depot at Maribyrnong, for instance, we have land on the river flats, under lucerne cultivation. In that way we keep down the expense of maintaining the horses. The men in charge of them take them in to the batteries when they are required, and take them back again when the training is over.

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