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Wednesday, 3 April 1946

Mr Bernard Corser r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   In view of the serious nature of the Criticism of administration of several Commonwealth departments contained in the Auditor-General's report, will he, in order that members might have the fullest information, direct the Ministers concerned to prepare replies to the criticisms and furnish them to the House after the Easter recess?

2.   Will he also ask the Ministers concerned to indicate what action, if any, has been taken to correct what has been disclosed in the Auditor-General's report?

Mr Chifley - I propose that the fullest possible consideration will be given to the matters disclosed by the AuditorGeneral in his report, and will take steps, in association with the Ministers administering the departments which have been the subject of comment by the AuditorGeneral, to see that appropriate measures are taken to ensure that any practices not regarded as satisfactory are corrected.

Army and Allied Works Council Equipment : Stocks in the Northern Territory.

Mr McEwen n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

1.   What numbers or quantities of the following items are to-day in the Northern Territory in possession of the service departments or the successors to the Allied Works Council, which will be available for release for disposal and suitable for developmental works or undertakings, either by the Government or by pastoral, agricultural, or mining lessees: - Tractors, wheel; tractors, crawler type; other items of earth-moving equipment; water-boring plants and engines; bore casing; windmills; barbed wire; plain fencing wire and steel fencing pickets?

2.   Will the Government retain all this material in the Northern Territory for present and future developmental needs?

3.   Will the Government sell to present and future lessees such quantities of this material and machinery as are necessary for development, paying particular regard to the needs of returned soldier lessees?

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

1.   The information desired by the. honorable member is not in the possession of my department. It would have to be obtained from the service departments, the Department of Works and Housing, and the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The Department of Supply and Shipping states that it is impossible at this stage to indicate what the total surpluses in the Northern Territory will he, having in mind that both the Army and the Air Force, as well as the Department of Works and Housing, have considerable commitments for their own post-war requirements. 2 and 3. The attention of the honorable member is invited to the statement I made on the 22nd March, 1946, in reply to a question without notice asked by him on that date. Since that date I have instructed the Administrator of the Northern Territory and his officers to inspect all stocks of material in the Territory available for disposal with a view to lodging claims for anything that may. be use ful to the administration. He was also asked to ascertain whether any supplies of steel pickets, barbed wire, boring plants and casing, windmills, etcetera, were available and whether they could be secured and stored for issue later to new settlers. Tlie Department of Supply and Shipping states that before any surplus equipment is removed from the Northern Territory every endeavour is made to ensure that local requirements are met. Surplus goods are, in the first instance, offered by the Commonwealth . Disposals Commission to the governmental authorities in the Northern Territory, and whatever equipment is needed for rehabilitation in Darwin and similar areas is being taken over by the responsible government department. The balance of the equipment is then offered for sale to local Northern Territory people, and the availability of equipment is brought under the notice of pastoralists, missions, and other likely buyers. Residues of equipment are offered for sale by public auction. Sales are being held at Darwin on the 15th and 16th April of motor vehicles and allied equipment, and on later days during the same month of earth-moving equipment, salvage stocks, engineers' stores and Royal Australian Air Force equipment. Returned soldier lessees who desire stocks for rehabilitation purposes should* contact -the Regional Superintendent of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in Darwin or in Alice Springs.

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