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Friday, 8 May 1942

Mr Blackburn n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   Has the inter-departmental committee yet made a report on comments of the honorable member for Bourke(Hansard, the 27th March, 1942, page 551) on the effect of regulation 70 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 9, National Security (War Injuries Compensation) Regulations?

2.   If so, what action does the Government propose to take with respect to that regulation ?

Mr Chifley - The Government has already given consideration to the subjectmatter of regulation 70 of Statutory Rules 1942, No. 9, and hopes to be in a position to make an early announcement after consideration of the committee's report, which will be completed next week.

Aircraft Production.

Mr Curtin n. - With reference to the question asked by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) on the 30th April, 1942, relative to the activities of a firm which had been subject to a certain recommendation of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, I have been advised that the Department of Aircraft Production at the instance of the Air Board placed a contract with De Havilland Aircraft Proprietary Limited in connexion with the construction of two prototype gliders and that portion of the work has been sub-contracted to the firm referred to by the honorable member. The contract made the major contractor entirely responsible for the fulfilment of the terms and conditions of the contract. Hitherto no restrictions have been placed upon contractors to sub-contract.

I propose to go thoroughly into the matter with my colleague, the Minister for Aircraft Production, and other Ministers in order that every care will be taken in the letting of contracts by the Commonwealth Government to ensure that contractors will have the capacity to perform the work efficiently and in the manner required by the Government.

Censorship: Sydney "Daily Telegraph ".

Mr Curtin - Yesterday the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked me a question, without notice, in reference to a censorship instruction relating to an article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on the 6th May, 1942.

I have received a report from the Chief Publicity Censor in which he states that action to prevent copies of the Daily Telegraph of the 6th May from leaving this country was taken by him on his own responsibility. The Chief Censor's authority was the Press Censorship Order, issued under National Security (General) Regulations. His reasons were that he decided that the article would adversely affect public opinion overseas, in a manner likely to be prejudicial to the efficient prosecution of the war, and to the cordial relationship now existing between this country find the United States of America. Moreover, it would undoubtedly have been welcomed by enemy propagandists. The article in his judgment was inflammatory, and likely to set up in the minds of the American people doubt about the wholeheartedness of our fighting men and of our war effort. It described politicians as inscribing on the Australian banner the slogans: "Save Sydney but not San Francisco " ; " Die for Darwin ; but why fight to rescue Bataan ".

The Chief Censor decided that the article, if read overseas, would convey the false impression that Australians were prepared to let others fight for them, but would fight for none other than themselves. Its purport is at variance with the record of the Australian Imperial Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal Australian Navy. The Censor, in the pursuance of his duty, decided that the article would create ill will abroad, and in the interests of allied unity he took action to prevent it from going abroad.

Escapees FROM Malaya.

Mr Forde e. - On the 30th April, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) referred to certain escapees from Malaya. I made inquiries and found that the men had not been treated as deserters. On arrival in Western Australia they were accommodated in a part of the barracks. They were not given fatigues or deprived of smoking requisites. Three days later they were transferred to Claremont camp, where they performed ordinary camp fatigues. Except for three cases of offences committed at Claremont camp, none of the soldiers was punished. The honorable member will appreciate that evidence regarding the circumstances surrounding their escape from Singapore is unobtainable as the only persons who could give it are in enemy hands.

Australian Army : Use of Racecourses.

Mr Forde e. - On Wednesday last the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) directed my attention to an article in the current issue of Smith's Weekly, alleging that military training had been interrupted at a racecourse camp near Sydney so that a race meeting might be held.

I have now had an opportunity to read this article, and have received a report on the allegations. The article contains numerous incorrect statements, and is quite misleading. The racecourse in question was the Canterbury racecourse, where 60 members of the Volunteer Defence Corps were receiving elementary training and where, in addition, about 50 administrative personnel were engaged on camp and depot duties. The ground is not low-lying as is stated, and although at the time it was damp after the rain, it is not damp now. There was only one meeting during the fortnight, not two as implied, and there was no interruption of training for, at the time, some of the men were on leave and others continued training elsewhere. The course was not evacuated on the Thursday evening, but the men trained all day on the Friday and left the course on Saturday morning. Work was resumed on Monday, not Tuesday, as stated. It is well to remember that more racecourses have been taken over and used exclusively for military purposes in the Sydney metropolitan area than in any other capital city of Australia. It must therefore be obvious that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, where the interests of racing and the Army have clashed, definite preference has been given to the training of troops.

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