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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr Blackburn n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

1.   What restrictions now affect the production of vegetables (including potatoes) and fruit, other than the limitations of the supply of labour?

2.   What steps are being taken by him to provide the consumers of Australia with a more plentiful supply of these commodities?

Mr Scully - The shortages of potatoes and of some other vegetables are due to adverse seasonal conditions, man-power problems, shortage of fertilizer, and the heavy demands of the Services. There is not any serious shortage of fruit, but the honorable member's attention is directed to a statement regarding citrus fruits made by the Minister for Supply and Development on the 16th September, 1942. The following additional information is furnished for the information of the honorable member : -

Potatoes.- The main crop of potatoes is an annual one in each State. In the States of heaviest production, the sowing period is from September to December. The acreage sown in 1941 produced a crop somewhat lower than normal.When the greatly increased demands of the Australian and allied forces occurred, the supply position could not be remedied quickly. The Federal Potato Committee has planned for a greatly increased acreage during the forthcoming planting season, and, provided wet weather conditions do not interfere with the planting, the committee's objective will be nearly reached. A normal crop from the total acreage which it is hoped willbe planted should produce supplies sufficient for all purposes. Through the Departments of Agriculture special steps are being taken to ensure priority for potato acreage in the use of fertilizers, and the close collaboration existing between the Man Power Directorate and the Commerce Department is expected to result in the provision of adequate labour for planting and harvesting. Although supplies of potatoes will be short for another two months it is estimated that 153,000 acres will be planted, and, if average yields are obtained, this should provide 450,000 tons compared with the average production of 350,000 tons.

Other Vegetables.- The Department of Supply and Development has made some special arrangements for the production of vegetables for Service requirements, and that department, and the Commerce Department, are providing equipment for canning and dehydration respectively. A special committee jointly organized by the Council for Scientific andIndustrial Research and the Commerce Department, has planned for the importation and production of vegetable seeds of various kinds, and sufficient quantities of seed will be available for all purposes. Arrangements have been made, through the Departments of Agriculture, for the supply of adequate quantities of fertilizers for vegetable production, but the Commonwealth Government has not adopted a special production programme for vegetables for civil consumption.

Recruitment of Labour in Tasmania.

Mr Curtin n. - On the 11th September, 1942, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) asked me the following questions, upon notice: -

1.   Is it a fact that an order was issued that labour was to be recruited in Tasmania to be employed in the mainland States?

2.   If so, which of his Ministers was responsible for the order?

3.   Is the order still in operation?

I furnish the following replies to the honorable member's questions : -

1.   Yes. Accumulation at dockside of large shipments of equipment necessitated augmenting civilian labourers available to ensure much-needed supplies reaching the armed forces with least possible delay. Consequently, it was decided to raise several labour companies throughout Australia. As the manpower situation prevented these units being raised by normal existing methods it was decided to withdraw suitable persons over 35 years. Tasmania's quota was 200 men, but only 106 were withdrawn.

2.   The order was given by Army.

3.   The arrangement was a temporary one only, and the men who have been withdrawn will be returned to their units as soon as others unsuitable for field service are available to take their places.

Sales of Land and Properties in New South Wales.

Mr Sheehan asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   Will he supply the names of the real estate agents in New South Wales who are acting for the Government in the sales and valuations of land and properties?

2.   Will he introduce a roster system for the purpose of utilizing all reputable real estate and property valuators who desire to act on behalf of the Government?

Mr Lazzarini i. - The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers : -

1.   The Department of the Interior does not retain the services of any particular valuator or real estate firm in any of the localities throughout Now South Wales, in which valuations might be required for acquisition purposes. It engages different firms from time to time. Valuations are made on behalf of the Department of the Interior by the district valuators on the State staff of the Commonwealth Taxation Department, also by the District Valuer of the New South Wales Valuer-General's Department. Additional valuations arc also obtained in certain cases from the leading accredited estate agents operating in the locality in which the particular property under review is situated. A Land Valuation Committee for the State has also been set up in an arrangement between the Departments of the Interior and the Army. This committee deals with property to be acquired under the Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1936 or possessed under the National Security (General) Regulations. The committee comprises the Property Officer of the Department of the Interior in the State as chairman, the Chief Valuer of the Taxation Department, Sydney, and the D.A.D. of Hirings, Army Eastern Command.

2.   In view of the foregoing, it is considered a roster system, as suggested, is unnecessary.

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