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Thursday, 14 May 1942

Mr MORGAN - The Joint Committee on War Expenditure received definite evidence that there are idle factories not only in New South Wales, but also in other States. The producing capacity of those factories should be utilized in furtherance of the war effort. I think it is wrong that there should be any further concentration of industries to the detriment of the small men. Instead of scrapping the so-called nonessential industries by closing them down and transferring their plant and labour to other places, it should be a simple proposition to convert many of them to war production. The majority of the proprietors are willing and anxious to do what they can, hut because war contracts were not made available to them by the previous administration, they have been closed and their machinery made available to larger concerns.

I agree with an article contributed to the Sydney Morning Herald some time ago by a Sydney engineer, Mr. Ghys. Although he is not well known to the general public, Mr. Ghys is recognized in the trade as a man of considerable knowledge and experience. On the subject of small workshops, Mr. Ghys said : -

Small Workshops.

For over two years engineers have been in close touch with the Government through their association in an effort to launch industry on to war materials. They are still waiting and romain engaged, mostly one shift in making for the most part unnecessary articles. Why this waste of potential? Do the authorities understand the capabilities of our existing workshops? There are workshops close to Sydney capable of producing complete tanks between them; engines and bodywork. There are also smaller shops capable of assisting in the same work. These shops mentioned are short of work. The authorities must get rid of the idea that a tremendous building with massive administrative offices and scores of gardeners in the grounds is required to make aeroplane manufacture possible.

The small engineer in this country has been snubbed because he is small, though in the past he has done great work. With a small market he has produced goods equal to those produced anywhere in the world. Take an article, whether an aeroplane part, car or machine of any kind, to an Australian engineer, and he will produce it to the required size, shape and strength. This is done thousands of times a week with satisfactory results. Why then are we told that we have not the equipment to make aeroplanes. EverY small engineer in Germany for many years lias been making aeroplane parts, with the result that Germany outnumbers us by far in the most vital weapon. Are our engineers less capable than the Germans? I, as one who knows both, can answer that with an emphatic " No ! ".

A committee of small practical private engineers should bc nominated by the engineers themselves. The machine should be dismantled and the engineers asked to choose the parts which they could best make. It would be found that in a very short time these small workshops would equip themselves and produce large quantities of aeroplane parts without disorganizing their usual work.

Had that policy been carried out, our war effort would be in a more advanced state than it is. I have received no fewer than 40 letters from proprietors of different workshops in Sydney and suburbs, offering to make their establishments available to the Government in furtherance of the war effort. An agitation led to the formation of an organization of over 250 small manufacturers who were anxious to place their resources at the disposal of the government of the day. The number of employees in each of the establishments concerned ranges from 5 to 200 or 300.

I trust that, even at this late stage, the Minister will give this matter his serious consideration; that he will not allow small industries to go out of existence, but will utilize and foster them in such a way that they may become important cogs in the wheels of our war industries.

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