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Friday, 31 October 1913

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) . - I wish to impress upon the Minister the necessity for manufacturing big-gun cordite in Australia. This particular class of cordite deteriorates much more rapidly than does the cordite for small arms ammunition. Moreover, we have to recollect that in the first attack. on the Commonwealth, it is quite possible that big-gun ammunition will be more important than will be small arms ammunition. In one year, there was no less than £10,000 worth of big-gun cordite which had to be destroyed.

Senator Guthrie - Imported?

Senator PEARCE - It is all imported. It deteriorates apparently for no reason whatever. Deterioration sets in from the time of manufacture, and climatic and other conditions appear to affect it materially. We depend upon obtaining our supply of big-gun cordite from Great Britain. That supply is most irregular. If our communication with the Mother Country were interrupted in time of national emergency, we should be absolutely helpless. It does seem to me, therefore, that tl-e Government should take into their early consideration the advisableness of extending the present Cordite Factory. . I have been informed by the manager of that factory that this could be done at a very small expense. The greater portion of the expenditure would be absorbed in providing a proof ground after the cordite had been manufactured. The subsequent expenditure would not be heavy. I suggest that the Minister should look carefully into this matter because I venture to say that the impracticability of keeping a sufficiently large supply of cordite on hand is one of the weakest links in our defence system. Our only safety lies in having a local source of supply. A reserve is an uncertain guarantee which may disappear in a few short months. I would impress upon the Minister the necessity of giving early consideration to this question. It may be possible to include in the Supplementary Works Estimates an amount for this purpose.

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