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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - This Bill does not give us the least indication of what the Minister has said. Upon page 8, there is an item relating to stables and other buildings for military horses, for which £3,500 is provided, of which only £803 is a new vote.

Senator Pearce - In some of the States we have been looking round for the land, and consequently we have to obtain a revote.

Senator CHATAWAY - A similar item in respect of Queensland asks Parliament to appropriate .£3,000, of which £[480 represents a re- vote, and £[2,512 a new vote. Coming to South Australia-

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator will find a similar item in respect of each State.

Senator CHATAWAY - But in South Australia it is smothered up in this form, " Barracks, Quarters, Gun Parks, Pharmacy Stores, Stabling and other buildings for military horses, towards cost, £24,000."

Senator Pearce - There is a very simple explanation of that.

Senator CHATAWAY - The Minister is an expert in offering simple explanations.

Senator Pearce - In all the other States but South Australia we have a military head-quarters. In Adelaide we have not, and this year we propose to build one.

Senator CHATAWAY - And is the pharmacy attached to the stables?

Senator Pearce - Yes.

Senator CHATAWAY - If we are going to spend the sum of £[35.000 upon the stabling of horses, the Minister should tell us what the Government intend to do with those stables. The item appearing on these Estimates in respect of Tasmania relates only to the " acquisition of land for agistment of military horses." In the colder parts of Australia, the horses are to run free. If the Minister thinks that the Department is doing the right thing, he will have to answer for it if arrangements go wrong. Meanwhile, I am perfectly justified in drawing attention to the fact that £[35,000 is being spent either on the stabling or the agistment of horses, whilst the Minister has only given us the vague statement that it is a good thing for the Department to own its own horses instead of hiring them. I do not deny that. Probably it is the best thing for the Department to own its horses. I believe that we have 5,000 or 6,000 military horses. On these figures it will cost us about £[7 per head a year, merely for stabling and feeding them on grass. I do not think that the Government have yet taken Parliament into their confidence. They have not told us what is at the back of their skulls when they put forward proposals of this kind.

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