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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Mr Paterson (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Has he received communications front the Premier of Victoria asking the Commonwealth to obtain reports from the Chief of the Division of Animal Health, Council ' for Scientific and Industrial Research, and from the Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Commerce before overruling the decision of the Victorian Parliament to prohibit the sale, for human consumption, of beef from the Metropolitan Board of Works Farm, Werribee?

2.   If so, did he accede to this request?

3.   If such a request were made and refused, will he state the reason for such refusal, and will he lay on the table of the House any correspondence between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments on this subject?

Mr Curtin - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Yes.

2.   No.

3.   Before arriving at a decision the Government called for reports from the Department of Health, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Commerce. The Premier was informed on the 6th April that nogood purpose would be served by obtaining additional reports on the matter. A copy of the recent correspondence between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments i» being laid on the table of the House.

Mr Fadden n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   In view of the gravity of the war situation and the concern again expressed by returned soldier organizations, particularly in Queensland, and others regarding the alien position in Australia, will he examine the four submissions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition on the 27th March last and recorded in Hansard, No. 3, page 517 7

2.   Will he make a considered statement to the House on those suggestions" to meet the alien situation?

Mr Curtin - Action has already been taken to intern those alien and other elements in Australia who, if left at liberty, would represent a menace to security. The position is constantly under review, and such internments are from time to time effected as the situation requires. It is not the policy to resort to mass internments, as such a policy does not materially add to the security achieved by the present course of action. Measures believed to be effective have already been taken to investigate and restrict the activities of female enemy aliens and subversive females of other nationalities. A suggestion that an independent commissioner should be appointed to inquire into and report upon all naturalization certificates granted during the last five years will receive consideration, but I point out -

(a)   The existing powers to control naturalized British subjects are as effective as the existing powers for the control of aliens;

(b)   An alien who has been naturalized for more than five years is not necessarily a better security risk than an alien who has been naturalized for less than five years ;

(c)   It is doubtful whether the findings of such a commissioner would be a help to the security authorities who are already in possession of relevant particulars in regard to the persons concerned ;

(d)   All applications for naturalization are referred for investigation by Security Officers before a certificate is granted.

Mr Calwell l. asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -

1.   How many clubs in Melbourne and Sydney, such as the Melbourne and Union Clubs, have been taken over by his department?

2.   How many additional schools and colleges have been taken over in those cities since the House met in March last?

3.   Have the clubs of Melbourne and Sydney been listed for occupation by his department at some future date?

Mr Forde - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Melbourne - Victorian Club (recreation centre for United States Forces); (b) Sydney - none.

2.   No additional schools have been takes over in Sydney or Melbourne since the 27th March.

3.   Clubs have been inspected and will be occupied if found suitable for any particular purpose.

Exchange of War Prisoners with Italy.

Mr Forde e. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Denison (Mr Beck) asked the following questions. without notice: -

Can the Minister for the Army say upon what basis the recent exchange of prisoners of warwas made with Italy?Was the state of health of the prisoners taken into account, or was length of service the determining factor? Will the Minister state upon whose recommendation the release of Australians was made, and what was the reason in each case?

I now inform the honorable member that there is no question of an exchange of prisoners of war with Italy. The recent repatriation of parties of British and Italian prisoners of war was effected in accordance with the terms of the Prisoners of War Convention, which provides for the examination of sick and wounded prisoners of war by mixed Medical Commissions to he appointed by each of the belligerent powers. The mixed Medical Commissions recommend which prisoners of war should he repatriated.

It is understood that a limited number of medical personnel were also repatriated in accordance with the terms of the sick and wounded convention.

Australian Consolidated Industries LIMITED.

Mr Makin - On the 5th March, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) asked me whether I had read the report of the War Expenditure Committee, which stated that an agreement bad been reached between Australian Consolidated Industries Limited and the Government whereby the Commonwealth benefited substantially by refunds from the company, and whether the Commonwealth had yet received any of the money. On that occasion I intimated that I would have a report prepared on the matter, and I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that when negotiations were being conducted with the company in respect of the costs to be applied in connexion with the munitions annexe, the company intimated that whereas the payments under the agreement were to be on a target price basis, it would work upon a cost and nonprofit basis. It desired, however, that in the first instance it should work to a cost basis plus the standard allowance of 4 per cent. and that payments in excess of bare costs should be refunded later. My department agreed to this suggestion, and so far £40,925 has been refunded. In respect of fixed price contracts the company and certain of its subsidiaries voluntarily notified my department in November, 1941, that in respect of contracts which they had secured by way of public invitation of tenders, they proposed to refund the profits, if any, in excess of 71/2 per cent. upon their costs. The refunds so far on this account have been£7,500.

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