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Tuesday, 5 August 1930

Senator GUTHRIE - It cost twice as much as it should have cost.

Senator DUNN - I am not very much concerned for the moment about the time taken to build the Adelaide or its cost. The fact remains that here were Australian artisans for the first time undertaking the work of shipbuilding under the supervision of British engineers. I enlisted from Cockatoo Island in 1914, and was away for five years, but I am led to believe that during the war period from 3,000 to 4,000 men were constantly employed on the island doing effective work in fitting troopships, and in general engineering construction. As time went on the Moonbah was built. It was subsequently acquired by a private firm, and is now used as a coal hulk in Port Philip. A large ocean-going coal tender called the Biloela was also built for the Navy, and is a very fine type of vessel; but the crowning effort of Cockatoo Island was its successful construction and launching of the Ferndale and Fordsdale, vessels which were completed during the administration of the Bruce-Page Government. They were capable of steaming eighteen knots, and of being used as auxiliary cruisers. Their guns had a very effective range. On arrival in Great Britain after their maiden voyage they were carefully examined by British naval and marine engineers, who were anxious to see what Australian workmanship was like, and Lloyd's surveyors gave an excellent report on the quality of that workmanship. After the completion of the Ferndale and Fordsdale an era of depression set in, and I well recollect, as one of the Cockatoo Island vigilance committee, the agitation that took place to secure other work for the dockyard. The officials submitted a tender for the construction of the turbo-alternators for the

Bunnerong power house, which was then under construction. The Bruce-Page Government gave them every assistance to go ahead, and see if they could keep the wheels of industry turning on Cockatoo Island. The dockyard's tender for these alternators was successful, but private enterprise - I believe it was the British General Electric Company - took out an injunction against the dockyard on the ground that it was a federal institution, and, under the Federal Constitution, had do power to undertake an outside contract. When the case was heard before the High Court private enterprise succeeded, the bench holding that the Commonwealth Government had no power under the Constitution to undertake this contract. The dockyard was practically rendered idle. It covers 75 acres. The principal dock is capable of holding the longest vessels of their type in southern waters,- the Canberra and the Australia. No. 2 dock is also a fine dock There is on the island a splendid pumping plant which can pump out all the water of the big dock in two hours. It is a performance not excelled anywhere else in the world. There are splendid sliP- ways, adequately fitted with cranes, and all the necessary machinery for the building of vessels.

Senator McLachlan - Does Walsh Island do the same class of work?

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