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Friday, 5 May 1939

Senator BADMAN (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

1.   Did the British Air Mission explore every possibility of establishing an aircraft factory in South Australia?

2.   What length of time did the mission spend in South Australia?

3.   Did the mission frame its report on its own investigations in South Australia, or on the investigations of Commonwealth officers?

4.   Were its report and recommendation based upon its personal" investigations in the eastern States, or on the recommendations of Commonwealth officers?

5.   How long were the members of the mission investigating various sites in the eastern States before they made their recommendations?

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

1.   The mission confined its investigations in the first place to ascertaining whether it was possible to adopt the scheme which had proved successful in England and elsewhere, i.e., the utilization to the fullest extent of existing industrial establishments. The scheme adopted by the Government, after discussions with the British Air Ministry, does not provide for the erection of any new aircraft factory.

2.   Two technical advisors arrived from England some weeks before the members of the British Air Mission. In company with a subcommittee (appointed by the Department of Defence and consisting of one departmental officer and four representatives of industries established in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide), they visited representative types of factories in those centres. Two days were spent in visiting factories in the vicinity of Adelaide. Later another technical advisor visited Adelaide and when members of the mission were passing through Adelaide they were met by the Premier and shown over certain local factories.

3.   Only one Commonwealth official was included in the sub-committee which submitted a report on the facilities available in Australia for the manufacture of aircraft parts. Copies of this report were made available to the mission but, as all members of the mission and their technical officers personally investigated the facilities existing at Adelaide, it is reasonable to assume that they were influenced largely by their own investigations in submitting their recommendations.

4.   The same procedure in regard to inspection of representative type factories was followed in Melbourne and Sydney as at Adelaide with the exception that the members of the mission, as distinct from their technical advisors, did not make any detailed visit to factories in the former two capitals.

5.   After the mission arrived in Melbourne on the 27th February, they undertook their investigations independently, guided, of course, by their technical advisors who had made inspections of the factories selected by the representatives of industry on the sub-committee. Exact details of their itinerary of visits are not known, but they spent approximately one week in Sydney, including overnight visits to Newcastle and Fort Kembla. About a fortnight was spent in Melbourne during which period discussions took place with the Commonwealth representatives, and their report was completed. Later they visited Canberra for some days and they proceeded to New Zealand on the 31st March.

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