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Wednesday, 26 November 1941


Mr Dedman (CORIO, VICTORIA) (Minister for War Organisation of Industry) n. - On the 20th November, in reply to a question, upon notice, by the honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Langtry), I indicated that inquiries would be made into statements by theRural Committee of the Murrumbidgee Electorate Council of the Australian Labour party in connexion with the report of Professor Prescott and Dr. Dickson concerning settlers in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

I am now in a position to supply the following information : - 1. (a) The evidence submitted by the Australian Labour party representative at a con ference at Griffith on the 4th December, 1940, was carefully considered by Professor Prescott and Dr. Dickson, and was not ignored in the preparation of their report. Itwas pointed out by these officers that flooding was due to the exceptionally heavy rain of the winter of1939, to overflow of rice bay bunks and to release of water from rice lands into the drainage system which could not cope effectively with such an unusual body of water. A main recommendation in the report was that a strong committee be set up to deal with the habituation of all settlers in difficulties as the result of the water-logging.

(b)   Figures regarding the number of returned soldiers among the settlers affected and their financial position should be sought from the State Government of New South Wales.

2.   Information should be sought from the Department of Repatriation about assistance given to soldier settlers.

3.   The inquiry by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research officers was conducted at the request of the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission with the full concurrence of the State Government of New South Wales. It is understood that the report was adopted by the State Government, and that the recommendationsare being put into effect as rapidly as war-time conditions permit.

Abbco Inquiry.


Mr Beasley y. - On the 5th November, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether I would examine the report of Mr. Justice Maxwell in relation to the criticism which he had directed against an official of my department in connexion with the legal proceedings taken against the Abbco Bread Company.

I now desire to inform the honorable member that a review of the royal commissioner's report in regard to the Abbco Bread Company reveals that the commissioner's criticism, so far as the Supply Department is concerned, is that the inquiries made following the Abbco company's conviction were not adequate to the occasion. The commissioner further remarks that there is no reason to suggest that the inadequacy of the investigations has resulted in any loss to the Army or to the Commonwealth following the granting of a further contract to Abbco or in any other way.

The remarks of the commissioner have been accepted by the department as a direction that where there is reason to doubt the integrity of a tenderer, the matter should be fully investigated and the greatest care exercised. All district contract boards have been instructed that this course must be followed.

War Equipment Specifications.

Mr.Forde. - On the 20th November, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall), referred to the matter of war equipment specifications and asked that inquiries be made to ascertain the reason for the delay in altering the standards from those in use in 1918 and in the adoption of the standards set down in Great Britain in 1940.

I now inform the honorable member that, in the case of war equipment, a standing authority exists between the War Office, London, and Army Headquarters, Australia, whereby the latest drawings and specifications are issued directly to the Army Inspection Branch, Maribyrnong, by the Chief Inspector of Armament, Woolwich. Therefore, immediately a change or modification is made in England, a copy of the notification is air-mailed direct to the Army Inspection Branch in Australia. The alterations embodied in the drawings received from England always include the latest British standard specifications, which are used in Australia immediately they are received here.

Darwin : Outbreakof Scurvy.


Mr Forde e. - On the 7th November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to reports regarding an outbreak of scurvy at Darwin.

I now desire to inform the honorable member thatI have had inquiries made from the Military Head-quarters at Darwin, and also from the DirectorGeneral of Health for the Commonwealth, who administers the Northern Territory medical services, regarding the report. I am informed by District Headquarters, Darwin, that no case of scurvy has occurred in the Military Forces during the past nine months. The DirectorGeneral of Health has advised me that he has sought information from Darwin and has been informed that no case of scurvy has occurred either in the civil population or in the defence forces.







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