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Wednesday, 9 November 1938


Mr Makin n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   How many persons are engaged at present with the National Insurance Branch I

2.   How many have been transferred from the following departments: - Prime Minister's Department. Pensions Branch, Taxation Branch, other branches of the Treasury, Audit Office, and Trade and Customs Department?


Mr Casey - The information desired' by the honorable member is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.


Mr Drakeford d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Are persons appointed under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act, other than commissioners, being drawn entirely from members of the Commonwealth Public Service ?


Mr Casey - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: -

The answer is yes, with the exception of one who was a State officer and was selected as the outstanding applicant after applications had been received from officers both within and without the Commonwealth service.

New Guinea: Royalty on Gold: Timber Resources.


Mr Green (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) n asked the Minister administering External Territories, upon notice -

With reference to the suggestions of the honorablemember for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) on the 23rd September regarding the imposition of a tax of 5 per cent, on all gold won in New Guinea, and the abolition of the tax in instances whore prospectors* are earning less than an appropriate wage, have the suggestions yet been investigated as promised?


Mr Harrison - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows : -

The Administrator of New Guinea was asked to carry out the necessary investigations and to furnish a report on the matter. A report has not yet been received from the Administrator but is being expedited.


Mr Green n asked the Minister administering External Territories, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that on the12th October the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green ) asked the Minister if he would lay on the table of the House the report presented by Mr. C.E. Lane-Poole, Commonwealth Forestry Adviser, concerning his recent visit to inquire into the timber resources of the Territory of New Guinea, and that the Minister replied that he would make arrangements to have the document laid on the table of the Library ?

2.   Is the Minister now prepared to have this report made available?


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

1.   Yes.

2.   The report hasbeen laid on the table of the Library.

Oil from Coal.


Mr Lyons s.- On the 21st October, the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) asked a question, without notice, regarding the provision of internal supplies of liquid fuels by means of the hydrogenation of coal. 1 desire to inform the honorable member that the Government has constituted a Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels comprising departmental officers and representatives of industry. The reference to the committee is to inquire into and to report, from time to time upon the possibilities of the production in Australia of liquid fuels and substitutes therefor from all sources with a view to obtaining greater national independence in this regard. Oil from coal will be one of the sources of production to be investigated by the committee. As the honorable member is aware, the question of the production of oil from coal by hydrogenation has been under the consideration of the Government for some time, and has been reported upon by Sir David Rivett and the Common wealth Hydrogenation Committee. The Standing Committee on Liquid Fuels will use these reports as a basis for further investigation.

Rabbit Destruction.


Mr Lyons s. - On the 4th November, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) asked a question, without notice, as to what progress had been made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with investigations into the use of the virus (myxomatosis) for the destruction of rabbits.

I desire to inform the honorable member that the second experiment on Wardang Island is still in progress, but itis too early yet to say whether the virus will be of use as an agent for the large-scale destruction of rabbits. The honorable member may bo assured that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will make a recommendation to the Government as soon as it is able to do so, and, if this recommendation is favorable, the necessary action will be taken without delay.

On the 4th November, the honorable member for Denison (Mr: Mahoney) askeda question, without notice, as to whether the virus used for the destruction of rabbits is harmful to homing pigeons and butcher birds, and also whether it will affect human beings, 1 desire 'to inform the honorable member that tests which have been carried out have shown that human beings are immune from the effects of the virus. Whilst specific tests with the virus have not been made with homing pigeons and butcher birds, other birds have been tested and, us these birds arc immune from its effects, it is presumed that the birds to which the honorable member referred arcalso immune. Details of the tests which have been carried out in Australia and abroad to determine the specificity of the virus are contained in the Journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, volume 10, No. 4. November, 1037, a copy of which will be supplied to the honorable member.







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