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Friday, 6 March 1942

Mr RYAN (Flinders) .- I desire to direct attention to certain aspects of the war organization of industry, mainly other than ' those mentioned by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), and I am glad that the responsible Minister is at present in the chamber. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and some of his colleagues have referred at various times to the urgent necessity to organize the affairs of the country on a war footing, and I was glad to learn that a series of instructions had been issued by the Department for the War Organization of Industry to employers' associations and individuals in this regard. I realize that large numbers of people who come into this scheme arc anxious to give of their best at the earliest possible moment. However, a large vacuum exists between the organization and employers and employees. I should like the Minister to look into this matter lo see if something can be done to speed up the process. Several cases have come under my notice during the last week or so. Apparently the department has laid down four general principles of operation: First, there is the elimination of all non-essential industries; secondly, the rationalization of the distribution of products obtained from industries which continue in operation; thirdly, the allocation of plant material and buildings; and fourthly, the allocation of man-power set free by the closing down of non-essential industries. I know of one employer in Dandenong who has quite a number of tradesmen and a fairly large plant which deals mostly with timber. At present he is able to obtain skilled men. The employers association to which he belongs passed on to him a departmental instruction, dated the 4th February. He went to Melbourne and saw certain officials of the Department of War Organization of Industry, from whom he obtained no help at all. He pointed out that instructions had been issued, but the officials were unable to indicate any particular avenue in which his plant and labour could be employed. He then went to the Ministry of Supply and Development and again he could obtain no assistance. The result was that he went home disappointed, and at present his men and plant are idle. I suggest to the Minister that it is necessary to fill up that ¬Ľap between the department and the people who will ultimately be affected. At the same time there is no doubt that the Government is already studying the problem along these lines.

I should like also to urge the necessity for decentralization. This matter was referred to by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen), but the problem is general throughout the Commonwealth, ft is quite true that, for many very good reasons, certain heavy industries cannot be moved to country areas, but there is quite an amount of useful work which could be done in country towns, where labour is available and no housing problems arise. Obviously, from a military


point of view, it is very desirable that war industries should be dispersed to the greatest possible degree, and not concentrated in the capital cities. The question of freeing the transport system from the present overloaded conditions is also important. To-day trains, trams, and buses are overcrowded by men and women going to and from their work, and a great deal of time and energy is also expended in that manner. I ask the Minister, and through him, the Government, to give serious attention to this matter in an endeavour to see whether or not decentralization can be speeded up.

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