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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Mr Ward d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   What was the purpose of the visit of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby), when he was Minister for Defence, to Java?

2.   Was any report made, and, if so. will a Copy be laid on the Table?

3.   What was the cost of the trip?

4.   Who accompanied the then Minister on the trip?

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

1.   In announcing on the 6th January that Mr. Thorby would visit Singapore, Java and Darwin, the then Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said: - " Mr. Thorby has recently been under a heavy strain, because of the demands made upon him in the Ministerial offices which he has held. I therefore suggested to him that he should take the opportunity of having a holiday this month to safeguard his health. " Mr. Thorby has intimated to me .that he desires to undertake the itinerary which I have outlined above, so that he can associate his period of respite with investigations which will assist him in the administration of his department. "Mr.Thorby proposes to inspect the naval dock at Singapore, and the defence organization generally at that centre. He will also inspect the organization associated with the flying-boat bases on the section of the route between Sydney and Singapore, and the aerodromes and land facilities for land 'planes between Singapore and Sydney. "It is also his intention to examine closely methods of building construction for the defence services and for civil purposes in tropical areas. This investigation will bear upon the developmental programme which it is proposed to undertake at Darwin ".

2.   Yes. Copies will be placed in the library.

3.   £750 10s. 6d.

4.   The Minister was accompanied by Mrs. Thorby and two daughters, and his private secretary, Miss K. Lyndon. The Commonwealth did not meet expenditure in respect of the Misses Thorby.

Australian Broadcasting Commission: Broadcasts by " The Watchman."

Mr Sheehan (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

1.   Is " The Watchman", who broadcasts from national stations, identical with E. A. Mann, former member for Perth in the House of Representatives?

2.   How many complaints have been received by the Australian Broadcasting Commission concerning expressions of personal opinion by " The Watchman ", which were regarded as unnecessary, objectionable or offensive?

3.   Has " The Watchman " shown bias against the Federal system, Canberra as the National capital, the Labor party, the protective tariff and constitutional reform?

4.   What steps has the commission taken, and what steps does the Minister intend asking the commission to take, to remove from national programmes personal expressions of opinion that are objectionable?

Mr Harrison - Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.

Wheat Crop: Cost of Handling - Purchase by Great Britain.

Mr Scully y asked the Ministerrepresenting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

In connexion with the acquisition by the Commonwealth of this season's wheat crop, what rate a bushel for handling and receiving is to be paid or allowed to agents appointed by the Australian Wheat Board?

Sir Frederick Stewart - The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -

The rate of remuneration to be paid to agents of the Australian Wheat Board has not yet been determined.

Mr Forde (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

1.   Will the Minister make a statement giving full particulars of the sale of Australian wheat to Great Britain?

2.   Has all the previous season's wheat been sold; if so, at what price?

3.   Has any contract been entered into for the sale of all crow for the duration of the war; if so, atwhat price?

4.   Will he see that the wheat-growers are assured at least 3s.10½d. a bushel f.o.r. at wharves ?

5.   As wheat-growers' organizations have protested against the personnel of the Wheat Board, will he re-constitute the Board so as to ensure that persons truly representative of the wheat-growers are included?

Sir Frederick Stewart - The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following information : -

1.   A general statement giving the desired particulars was made in Parliament on the 15th November.

2.   Most of the previousseason'swheathad been sold prior to the war. Since the war, 200,000 tons of Australian wheat were sold to the Government of the United Kingdom at a price of 17s. sterling ci.f. per quarter of 480 lb., freight and insurance being on British Government account.

3.   No.

4.   The Government's policy in regard to financial assistance to the wheat industry was announced in Parliament on the 15th November.

5.   It is not proposed to re-constitute the Australian Wheat Board. Persons truly representative of the wheat-growers are already included in the membership of the Board.

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