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Thursday, 20 May 1920

Mr HUGHES (Bendigo) (Prime Minister and Attorney-General) . --I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

Yesterday the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fenton) asked a question in regard to the accommodation for the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court. I am now in a position to say that special arrangements are being made for the accommodation of the Court, and it is expected that Mr. Justice Starke will be able to take up his duties as DeputyPresident in a few days.

On 11th May, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) stated that the Australian Metal Exchange had refused a permit for the exportation of old horseshoes required for ballast purposes, and asked if an outside organization such as this has the supreme power of denying permits for the exportation of goods, and, if so, how long such a system is to continue. I am now in a position to state that it is not, and never has been, the function of the Australian Metal Exchange to refuse or grant permits to ship metals. Registration of contracts is the function of the Exchange; permission to export rests with the Government. In the case referred to by the honorable member, the applicants did not hold any horseshoes, but wished to buy 70 tons for export to Hong Kong. Permission to ship was refused by the Government, as local users were prepared to purchase the horseshoes at a reasonable price for local treatment in Western Australia, where electric furnaces are at present being erected to treat the West Australian production and accumulated stocks of scrap steel. The conversion of each ton of scrap treated locally by means of electric furnaces, means the expenditure of £4 for electric current, and from £18 to £20 for labour to bring the product to a saleable condition. In addition, about £4 is spent in the Commonwealth by way of incidental and overhead expenses. If the embargo had not been imposed, the stocks of scrap iron and steel in the Commonwealth would long ago have been sold to the East. By the institution of the embargo, supplies for local purposes have been assured, an important industry has been developed, and a competitive demand for scrap steel has been created in the Commonwealth. In dealing with applications to export scrap metals, the producers of the scrap receive every consideration, but the Government cannot permit dealers to export scrap steel making for themselves from £1 to £2 profit per ton, whereas by insisting on local treatment, at least £27 is spent by the steel founders in the Commonwealth mostly in direct wages, and reasonable prices are, at the same time, obtained by the producers of the scrap.

I have refreshed my memory in regard to the programme which has been prepared for the convenience of honorable members, and I find the Prince of Wales will leave New South Wales on the 19th June, and, consequently, the 23rd June is the first day on which this House can be called together. I do not say that the House will be re-assembled on that day; but I do say that it will not re-assemble earlier.

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