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Wednesday, 16 September 1942

Mr Bernard Corser r asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

In view of the fact that the matters involved are of major concern so far as the department he administers is concerned, will he inform the House if he approved the statement issued by the Minister for War Organization of Industry, outlining plans for the rationalization of the pastoral industry, and involving a suggested curtailment of wool production and of sheep flocks in Australia?

Mr Scully - I agree with the general plan of the rationalization of wool transport and also with the advice given relative to surplus sheep being made available for canning and dehydration for service requirements.

Price of Beer and Spirits in Canberra.

Mr Francis s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

1.   Has any action been taken by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner to fix the prices of beer and spirits sold in Canberra?

2.   If so, will he indicate when such action was taken and the nature of it?

3.   Is there in existence an official list giving the retail prices of beer and spirits, approved by the Prices Commissioner, similar to that issued by the United Licensed Victuallers Association, Sydney?

4.   If so, will he make it available for perusal ?

5.   If not, will he lay on the table the official list, giving retail prices of beer and spirits fixed for Canberra?

Mr Beasley - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   Yes.

2.   Prices of beer have been governed by the National Security (Prices) Regulations since October, 1941, and prices of spirits have been under legal control since the 15th April, 1942. Prior to these dates, there was an unofficial control under which alterations of prices and sizes of glasses were made with the approval of the Prices Commissioner.

(a)   Beer.- (i) On the 10th December, 1940, approval was given for the elimination of the 20-oz. pot, 20-oz. schooner and 10-oz. pot in public bars. These were replaced by the 17-oz. schooner and 9-oz. pot, which were sold at the old prices of l0d. and 6d. respectively. These variations were to offset to some extent the full effect of an increase in excise in September, 1939, of 3d. a gallon and a further increase of 9d. a gallon in November, 1940. (ii) Bottles were increased 2d., equivalent to the increase in excise duty. This was a general increase throughout Australia. (iii) On the 19th December, 1941, following an increase of 3d. a gallon in excise (the 30th November, 1941) and1d. a gallon for gas used for reticulation, approval was given for the 17-oz. schooner to be reduced to 16 oz. and sold at l0d. a schooner. Bottles were increased by id., equivalent to the increase in excise. The prices for bottled beer sold in glasses over the counter remained unchanged. (iv) On the 5th September, 1942, following increase of1s. 7d. a gallon in excise, approval was given for increases of1d. an 8-oz. glass, 2d. a 16-oz. schooner and 3d. a 26-oz. bottle. (b) Spirits. - (v) In December, 1940, following the imposition of a further 12s. a proof gallon duty on imported and Australian spirits, an increase in the prices of bottled spirits was permitted in accordance with a formula which decreased gross profit margins. Nobbier prices were increased1d. a 1-oz. nip. (vi) Owing to the ex-distillery prices of Scotch whisky being increased in the United Kingdom, increases in Australian retail prices of this spirit were permitted to operate from the 27th December, 1941. On thesame date, nobbler prices increased1d. a nip. (vii) Adjustment of prices to provide for recent increase in excise on spirits is under consideration.

3.   Not at present. Arrangements are being made for the exhibition in all hotels of approved price lists, but these will not be prepared until the price adjustments resulting from the recent increase in duty on spirits are approved. 4 and 5. See answer to No. 3.

Aluminium Industry in Tasmania.

Mr Guy (WILMOT, TASMANIA) y asked the Minister for Supply nnd Development, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that the Minister for Munitions, whilst in Tasmania some months ago, waa reported as saying that he had every confidence that the aluminium industry would eventually be established in Tasmania, and that as Minister for Munitionshe intended to examine this matter closely? 2.Is it a fact (a) that there are well over 2,000,000 tons of high-quality bauxite in Bight at the Ouse in Tasmania; (b) that ample hydro-electric power is available for the successful establishment of the industry in Tasmania; and (c) that the price of power in that State is £4 per horse-power as against £12 in New South Wales, £13 in Victoria and £16 in South Australia?

3.   Is it a fact that the Premier of Tasmania has publicly stated that " for years there have been definite attempts hy people interested - and they are not all outside Australia, because one of the big monopolies in Australia is interested in the overseas aluminium cartel- to block the establishment of this industry"?

4.   If the statements of the Premier of Tasmania are correct, will the Minister take appropriate action to see that interested parties do not prevent the establishment of the industry in this country?

Mr Beasley - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   In reply to a similar question on the 9th September, my colleague,the Minister for Munitions, indicated to honorable members that a promise was made to the effect that- the claims by Tasmania for the establishment of the aluminium industry would receive consideration.

2.   (a)Iam informed that there is highquality bauxite in this locality, but that the quantities available have not yet been established, (b) and (c) I am advised that sufficient hydro-electric power is not at present available in Tasmania to serve an aluminium industry, which would require a very substantial quantity. 3 and 4. I have not seen the particular statement attributed to the Premier of Tasmania, but I can assure the honorable member that, provided essential plant and equipment oan be imported from abroad, the Commonwealth Government is determined that the aluminium industry shall be established in Australia.

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