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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - Surely the Department has some idea of what the ultimate cost of any one of the items referred to is likely to be. One would think that before an estimate was brought down here, the Department would have furnished the 'Minister of Defence with some information as to whether the Naval College is likely to cost half-a-million or a million, or two millions. I do not suggest that it is proposed to complete the building during this or the next year, but surely the Government have some plan or scheme. Apparently, the Department do not wish to give an estimate of the probable cost until the building has been virtually completed. Any fool could find out then what the cost was likely to be. I think that if the officers are earning their salaries, they should be able to give the Minister the information which we desire. Surely there is a plan or a scheme to be carried out.

Senator Millen - I do not like the use of the word "scheme" in connexion with this matter.

Senator SAYERS - I think it is the proper word to use, seeing that we can get no information.

Senator Chataway - No; the proper word is " conspiracy."

Senator SAYERS - That would be harder still, but I do not wish to be too hard, because I know the Minister is in a bit of a fix. Surely he does not expect us to pass the item without being supplied with full information. Apparently he does not know what the Naval Barracks are going to cost. We want to know, and the country wants to know, what this scheme may cost. We are hungry for information, but we cannot get it. The least which the Minister can do is to say whether it is proposed to spend half-a-million pounds on the Naval College. We also want to know if the Government have any plan, or can give the country an idea of the expenditure to which this item of £45,000 towards the cost of the Military College is likely to commit us.

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