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Tuesday, 30 May 1939

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) .- The amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) is such a reasonable one that I am convinced that, if we could only get a sufficient number of Government supporters into the chamber to listen to the debate, it would be carried. [Quorum formed.]

Now that there are a few more Government supporters in the chamber I trust that they will realize that the amendment is a very desirable one. I have no doubt that, when the honorable member for Batman moved his amendment, he had in mind the history of the various factories controlled by federal governments in the past for the production of munitions, equipment and materials. It is hard to understand the opposition of the Government to the amendment, except that it may be afraid that it would adversely affect the interests of certain wealthy corporations that have been successful in coming to an arrangement with the Government for the establishment on their property of defence annexes. What reasonable opposition can the Minister sustain to a sub-clause reading -

The compulsory acquisition of real estate on just terms for purposes of defence. when read in conjunction with subclauses c and . d of tlie clause ? One's mind goes back naturally to the experience of the country in connexion with the Commonwealth Woollen Mills established by the Fisher Labour Government in 1910. Mr. Fisher did not go to private manufacturers and ask them to allow the Commonwealth to put machinery on privately-owned land. He negotiated with the Geelong Harbour Trust, which with the consent of the Victorian Government, made a grant of 13 acres to the Commonwealth upon which the mills were erected. For the six years which ended in 1922, the Commonweatlh Woollen Mills made a gross profit of £347,000. During that time, depreciation amounted to £88,000.

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