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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr Street t. - On the 25th November, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan)asked the following questions, upon notice: -

1.   What was the strength of the Australian militia forces on (a) the 1st September, 1938, and (b) the 2nd October, 1938, showing (i) officers, and (ii) other ranks?

2.   Were there large numbers of resignation* of commissions by officers during this period?

3.   If so, will he state the number and the ranks previously held by the persons who resigned ?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -

1.   Strength returns of the militia forces are submitted quarterly. The quarterly strength return submitted on the 30th September, showed the strength to be 2,940 officers and 32,302 other ranks- a total of 35,242. While no exact record for each month is maintained, the strength of officers and other ranks on the 1st September, 1938, was approximately the same as for the 30th September.

2.   No.

3.   See answer to No. 2.

Lorenzradio Beacons: Patents.

Mr Menzies s. -On the10th November, 1938, the honorable member forBoothby (Mr. Price) asked what patent numbers are, in accordance with the Patents Act, marked upon Lorenz beacon apparatus in the possession of the Government, and I informed the honorable member that the information would be obtained.

I am now in a position to state that there are no patent numbers appearing on the Lorenz equipment which is being installed for the Commonwealth Government. I would point out to the honorable member that section 125 of the Patents Act provides alternative methods of giving notice. Where, from the character of the article, notice cannot be given by fixing thereon the prescribed particulars, notice may be given by fixing to the package containing the article a label containing the prescribed particulars. I am unable to state whether any such labels were attached to the packages containing the equipment in question.

Farmers' Debt Adjustment.

Mr Casey y. - On the 9th November, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked the following question, without notice: -

Can the Treasurer state the amount that has been paid, or will be paid up to the end of this year, by the Commonwealth Government for farmers' debt adjustment, and the number of farmers who havebeen placed upon a solvent basis as a result of the provision of that money?

I am now in a position to furnish the following information in reply to the honorable member : -

As the honorable member is aware, grants made to the States under the Loan (Farmers'

Debt Adjustment) Act under certain conditions which include, inter alia, that no payment shall be made to or for the benefit of any farmer for the discharge, in whole or part, of his debts unless, in the opinion of the authority administering the State scheme, some discharge of the debt is necessary to unsure thatthe farmer will continue to carry on farming operations and to give him a reasonable prospect of carrying on those operations successfully. Returns received from the various States show that, to the 30th September, 1938, the following numbers of applications for adjustment of farmers' debts have been settled: -


Export of Pig Iron.

Mr Lyons s.- On the 22nd and the 25th November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked me questions, without notice, regarding contracts entered into between the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Japan for the export of pig iron ; also, whether the fact that contracts have been entered into would induce the Government to remove the embargo on the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound.

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the quantity of pig iron for which definite contracts have actually been entered into by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for export to Japan is 23,000 tons.

It is not the intention of the Government to rescind the prohibition on the exportation of iron ore from Australia. The Government has had under consideration again the question of ' the exportation of pig iron and has decided that this trade would be permitted to continue for the time being. The volume of exports is comparatively small viewed in relation to the quantity of iron ore which would have been exported had not restrictive action been taken. Moreover, the Government has been advised that the present exports of pig iron are not prejudicially affecting the ability of industry to meet Australia's requirements of iron and steel products. The whole position is, however, being kept constantly under review, and if it appears at any time that the exportation of pig iron is likely to increase to such an extent as detrimentally to affect Australian industry and development, the question of restriction of export will receive immediate consideration.

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