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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

We published yesterday the last of a series of articles on what the Allied Works Council has done and is doing to make Australia a base for war. A curtain of censorship, of which still only a corner oan be lifted, has hidden from public gaze the vast constructional operations which the council, under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Theodore, has been directing since its formation little more than six months ago. What has now been revealed must stimulate the imagination and stir the pride of Australians, and arouse in them, too, a lively sense of gratitude to the men whose brains and labour have wrought so much in so brief a space of time. There are blemishes on the picture, no doubt, but they are of small account compared with the immensity of the Works Council's achievement. Time has pressed, violently, from the start. A great organization has had to be brought into being at breakneck speed, and this in a country which is not accustomed to hustle. Orthodox methods have had to be discarded, and prejudices ignored. The marvel is not that mistakes have been made, or that individual hardships have occurred, but that so many difficulties, which in peace-time would have been deemed insuperable, have been overcome.

Senator Collingslast week gave an impressive list of the projects which the Works Council had undertaken, and. with a courage which did him credit as a Minister, defended it against the unfair criticism to which it has been subjected. It is not right, as he said, that an organization whose work is so vital to the safety of Australia should be sniped at by interested parties. This is not to say, of course, tha,t attention should not be directed to remediable defects, especially on the man-power side. There would seem to have been undue emphasis upon quantity at the expense of quality in the supply of labour, and a failure to apply adequate medical tests to men called upon for arduous work under relatively primitive conditions in the construction camps. Experience is curing these deficiencies, and they should not be allowed to detract from a "magnificent performance. Engineers, foremen, and an army of workmen have toiled ung.rudin.gly to provide the fighting services with the facilities urgently needed in the conduct of the war, and Australia owes much of its increased security to them.

Mr Anthony - The honorable member should hand that article to the Minister for Labour and National Service for him to frame.

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