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Friday, 31 October 1913

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) .- I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not present, although I know that he has very good reason for being absent. Nevertheless, I feel that I must ask that the Committee should be informed as to why a vote of £8,000 is required in connexion -with Garden Island. A few days ago I brought before the Minister a question, which, I think, is deserving of some attention. I pointed out that the Garden Island establishment contains, among other things, a dockyard and a repairing dock. These were very necessary for the ships of the Imperial Fleet, because it was the only repairing establishment which they had in Sydney. The position, however, has undergone a complete alteration since the departure of the Imperial ships from our waters, inasmuch as we have Cockatoo Island, which is not only suitable for undertaking new works, but also for effecting repairs. If we are going to maintain a repairing establishment at Garden Island, as well as at Cockatoo Island, we shall require two sets of engineering officers to run them. I cannot see why that is necessary. Garden Island serves other purposes besides that of a repairing establishment. In addition to the dockyard, ' there are on the island stores, a depot, the hospital, and, I think, a gaol . Now that the Imperial establishment has been done away with it seems to me that we should determine whether it is not possible to concentrate all the engineering work at Cockatoo Island. If honorable members will refer to the ordinary Estimates they will see that that engineering staff is a pretty costly one. To my mind, it is not wise to duplicate these establishments if we can avoid it. We should not perpetuate a duplication of staffs and of works. If the repairing work can be undertaken at Cockatoo Island it should be carried out there. The Government are in control of that island, and they can say that the repairing of ships in commission shall take precedence of all other work. I should like to know whether in this item of £8,000 any expenditure is proposed on the workshops at Garden Island ?

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