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Thursday, 26 September 1912


Senator PEARCE - They are all Australians.


Senator Guthrie - Enlisted in Australia.


Senator PEARCE - The bulk of them are Australian born. The honorable senator must not run away with the impression that I am not giving the figures of men recruited by the British Squadron. These are recruits whom we ourselves have enlisted. They are mostly young fellows under the age of twenty-five. The great bulk of them are about eighteen years of age, and they are mostly Australian born. Admiral Henderson goes on to say -

On the assumptions that the ptoposals will meet with the concurrence of the Admiralty, and that the ratings to be obtained from the United Kingdom will be available, the immediate measures to be taken by the Commonwealth for the provision of the 878ranks and ratings required for the vessels of the Fleet Unit are as follows.

Then he suggests that we should -

Establish and open recruiting centres and develop recruiting.

That has been done.

Acquire the Sobraon as a training ship for toys.

That has been done.

Erect barracks and naval college at Sydney.

We are providing for a naval college at Geelong temporarily, and afterwards there will be a naval college at Jervis Bay.

Erect barracks at Fort Western.

That is proceeding.

Arrange for the transfer to the Commonwealth service of such Australians now belonging to the Imperial service and serving in certain of H.M. ships on the Australian Station and elsewhere as volunteer for transfer.

That has been arranged, as the figures which I have quoted indicate.

All recruiting in Australia hitherto performed by the Imperial Naval authorities for service in the Imperial Navy to cease forthwith, and such recruiting to be taken over at once by the Commonwealth.

That recommendation has been adopted, and is being carried out.

The vessels of the Imperial Navy now employed in training Australians to continue recruiting and training for the Commonwealth Navy.

That lias been varied, in that we have taken over the Encounter, and are training men upon her.

Pending the arrival of the fleet unit . . . temporary arrangements to be made ... in the Naval Barracks at Garden Island.

That has been varied. We are sending our men to Williamstown. Garden Island will be handed over to us by the Admiralty on the 1st July next. Dealing with the subsequent eras, to use his own expression, Admiral Henderson, on page 22 of his report, recommends that the following additional vessels should be provided between 1913 and 1918 : -

One depôt vessel, to be ready by end of 1914.

Three submarines, to be ready by end of 1916.

Three torpedo boat destroyers, to be ready by end of 1917.

Three torpedo boat destroyers, to be ready by end of 1918.

The depôt vessel was provided for in the Works Estimates, and instructions have been given for her construction.


Senator Rae - In England or Australia?


Senator PEARCE - In England; she is a special type of ship of which the Admiralty have the plans. No vessel of the kind has ever been constructed in Australia. The other vessels mentioned will be here in sufficient time if they are ordered within the next two or three years. It will be time enough even then to have them within the time Admiral Henderson has set down for their construction. The time allowed for the construction of a torpedo boat destroyer in Great Britain is twelve months, so that if the order were given in 1915 the vessels would still be constructed within the time for which Admiral Henderson allowed. I contend from these facts that not only have we kept within the time limit laid down by Admiral Henderson, but in certain respects we are in advance of what he thought we should be able to do.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator admits that there is a delay in construction.


Senator PEARCE - There is a delay in construction, but there is no delay in the placing of the vessels in Australian waters as contemplated by Admiral Henderson. He did not contemplate that the Fleet Unit would be available in Australia before the middle of 1913.


Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator anticipate that we shall have the Fleet Unit here by the middle of next year ?


Senator PEARCE - Yes, we are so advised by the Admiralty authorities. The Melbourne will be commissioned on the 1st January, and will leave for Australia shortly afterwards. The Sydney and Australia, it is promised, will be in these waters, possibly, in April next, and not later than in June.


Senator Millen - And as to the vessels that are being built locally?


Senator PEARCE - They will not be ready for some time, but I remind the honorable senator that the Encounter will take the place of the Brisbane until that vessel is available. So that practically the Fleet Unit available will be the same in strength as that decided upon at the1909 Conference, with the exception of the three destroyers which are being constructed in Sydney.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - When does the honorable senator expect the

Australia?







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