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Friday, 27 March 1942

Mr MORGAN (Reid) . -Certain war industries in my electorate are being dislocated seriously as the result of the seizure of important machines.I did not raise this matter during the debate on the motion for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 77, because the machines were not seized under the powers conferred by those regulations.

During the debate the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) gave an assurance that the powers would not be exercised except under ministerial authority. In view of what is happening to the companies which I mention, and others, I consider that the same policy should be applied in respect of the seizure of their machines. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that an attempt was made to take control over one company by an official who was financially interested in a rival concern. On one occasion a Herbert turret lathe was seized from a firm known as Carmichaels. It was operating twelve hours a day on the manufacture of ammunition boxes for 25- pounder guns and blood bottles for the Army. The result of the seizure was a seriousdelay of production, not only from this machine, but also from a number of other machines engaged on associated work. In order to see whether the machine could have been obtained from another source, I communicated with a machinery merchant. He told me that, although identical machines were not available, a machine of a competitive type was lying on a wharf at Melbourne. Its release could have been secured through the Directorate of Machine Tools. Therefore, if proper inquiry had been made, there would have been no need to disturb production at Carmichael's works. Two machines were seized from the Purcell Engineering Company Proprietary Limited, which is engaged in the manufacture of lathes and other important equipment. It is strange that the companies affected are in direct competition with the interests of persons concerned with the seizure of the machines. Officials who have been appointed to the Directorate of Machine Tools for the duration of the war are connected with rival concerns. A completely independent official should have authority to decide when and from what places machines should be seized. A machine was commandeered from Vincent's engineering works at Enfield, and as the result, production was seriously dislocated. Howard Auto Cultivators Limited received a machine on a Friday morning. It was installed on the Saturday morning, but on the following Monday, officials of the Directorate of

Machine Tools had the machine removed from its concrete bed and sent elsewhere. I understand that some of the machines which have been seized are required for the production of the Owen gun. That may bc true, but many manufacturers consider that there has been unfair discrimination. Their fears would be allayed if an independent authority were appointed to supervise the allocation of machine tools. The production of Owen guns has been allotted to John Lysaght (Australia) Proprietary Limited. A simple way of handling the problem of obtaining machine tools for thi3 work would be to farm out the manufacture of components to firms which have machines that are not working 24 hours a day. Such valuable machines should be in full production instead of being used for only twelve hours a day. I understand that the firms from which machines have been seized are willing to co-operate with other firms in the manufacture of war equipment. The system is entirely wrong. It is no more logical than would be the removal of a man's stomach because, through lack of food, it was able to work only half time. The proper thing to do in such a ease would be to feed the man. The removal of his- stomach would throw his whole body out of action. That is comparable with what is happening in this industry. By taking one machine away, other machines are being rendered less useful. I hope that the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) will take steps to ensure that these matters are supervised by independent persons.

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