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Thursday, 24 September 1942

Mr SHEEHAN (Cook) .- I desire to draw the attention of the Government to the present practice of the Army authorities in calling up men for service. All the young men called up at one time from a particular district are placed in the one unit. Every lad from that district, who is called up at that time, is supposed to be able to adapt himself to the signalling section, or to the medical corps, or to the engineering section, as the case may be. It would be better if there were central depots in the metropolitan areas to which all recruits were sent for a period of a month, or three months, so that the authorities could assess their qualifications and decide the branch of the Army for which they were suited.

In my opinion, the Army should bake its own bread for supplying the needs of troops in big camps. I have been informed that, under the present system, there is a great deal of waste. Contracts are let to private bakers for the supply of a specified quantity of bread each day, and army vehicles collect the bread and bring it to the camps. I am informed that the bread could be made for half the cost in army bakehouses.

Mr Beasley - The trouble is that camps do not all remain stationary.

Mr SHEEHAN - The big camps do. Under the present system, when a detachment of perhaps 2,000 men is sent away from a camp, the bread contractors are not informed in advance; consequently, bread f,or the feeding of those men is baked and brought to the camp, and most of it is wasted. This would not happen if the bread were baked on the premises as, I understand, was done during the last war. The adoption of the system which I recommend would save flour and transport costs. The cost of erecting a bakehouse in a large camp would not be more than £1,500. The building of the ovens would be the most costly item, and probably one oven to each camp would be sufficient.

Frequent complaints are heard regarding delays in the payment of compensation for land and other property taken over for military purposes by the Central Hirings Committee. One reason for this delay is that there is no one on the committee with practical experience of real estate. There is a representative of the Treasury, another of the Army, and also an accountant, but there is no one with a practical knowledge of land and property values. It is bad enough for people to have their property taken from them, but the position is worse when they have to wait for compensation. I know of one man whose premises were taken over by the Munitions Department. He was storing furniture for 200 people, and when he had transferred half of it to another building, the Division of Import Procurement commandeered the second building, and he had to find a third. Now he is afraid that another department has its eye on the third building, and that he. will have to shift again. He was given two days' notice to shift 200 loads of furniture. There should be a central authority to deal with the acquisition of property required by various departments.

Mr Coles - There is now.

Mr SHEEHAN - No; the various departments just say they will have this or that building, and they take it. Some departments give two days' notice to quit, and others seven days. I ask the Government to see that a man with some real estate experience is associated with this administration.

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