Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 20 June 1946

Mr LAZZARINI - No, but I am inclined to think that some honorable members opposite have changed their names. The document continues -

Apparently Mr. Brilliant had been to Brisbane and had discovered that the tonnage would be much in excess of 1,000 tons.From inquiries since made into this position, it would appear that by the time the original 1,000 tons is cleared there will probably be another 500 or GOO tons available.

Then the document goes on to state how the contract was altered, and how Associated Salvage Distributors were worried about the condition of the material in the Army salvage stores. It states -

It will tints be seen that any action taken by the chairman or the secretary of the commission at the time was fully endorsed by the then members of the commission. The majority of the members were senior public servants who had given a lifetime of public service, and would definitely not be parties to any sinister or underhand transaction.

Then follows a letter to Mr. Brilliant including a list of the material held in the various stores. The list is as follows : -

Brisbane -

West End Store - All Army rag in this store including residue blanket pieces.

Newmarket Store - All Army rag, blanket pieces, and unserviceable army clothing for transfer to rag.

Newmarket Brick - All Army rag in this store, as at the date of inspection, excluding anti-gas material, discarded hammocks, cotton and bags and scrap jute.

Army Salvage Depot - Stocks of rag at present stacked in the open, but not including any stocks at present in army salvage stores not yet declared to this commission.

This commission believes that thestocks of rag set out in the foregoing tabulation, approximate between 800 and 900 tons, the rag in the commission's stores being considered to be approximately 450 to 500 tons, while the stocks in the army salvage depot are reputed to be between 300 and. 400 tons. Sydney -

Redfern Store - Discarded service clothing as inspected comprising lines listed by the State Controller for transfer to rag, under approval from the chairman, including residue blanket pieces.

Harrington-street Store - Stocks of discarded clothing as inspected and listed by State Controller for transfer to rag, under chairman's approval.

Millar, Ezzy's Store - Stocks of discarded clothing for transfer to rag, as inspected, approximately fifteen bales.

Army Salvage Depot, Merrylands, (not inspected) - A lot of discarded military clothing, unsorted, reputed tobe approximately twenty tons.

The letter continues-

This commission proposes; therefore, to offer for sale to you a minimum quantity of 1,000 tons, comprising all the available rag as set out in the foregoing statement, and the balance between the total quantity of rag available, and the minimum of a thousand tons to be made up, if necessary, from the stocks of clothing awaiting transfer to rag. It is further agreed that the commission will be prepared to sell all the material specified in the foregoing statement to a quantity even in excess of 1,000 tons. Therefore, in the event of your desire to purchase all the stocks, as enumerated, and should these exceed by weight 1,000 tons, it is understood that you would be agreeable to pay for the additional material at the same rate per ton as that to he charged for the stipulated minimum. 1,000 tons lot.

That refers to that big quantity of material with the exception of the £1,000 worth mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth.

The following statement by the Commonwealth Controller of Salvage will give an indication to honorable members of the kind of material it was : -

When the first contract was made the firm was not registered, but the contract itself was entered into with Mr. S. Brilliant, who immediately registered the firm when hewas informed that his offer to purchase the rag had been accepted. This is ordinary business procedure and there is nothing ominous in this fact. If a contract had been entered into with Associated Salvage Distributors prior to the firm being registered then this would have been highly irregular. The figure of £78,000 must be purely a figment of Mr. Harrison's imagination and is absolutely fantastic. During an interview with Messrs. Brilliant and Baron in Melbourne, afterI had taken over the chairmanship of the commission, I informed them that I intended investigating their books and they stated they would raise no objection. Whilst it is probable that a profit will eventually be made on the transaction, I dp not think that it will he very great. Having regard to the early expenses which this firm incurred in sorting, and also the fact that much of the materia! was of little value, which fact would be borne out by Mr. Stirling, Queensland Salvage Controller, who, in company with Mr. Conn, Chiet Auditor for New South Wales, investigated a great portion of the material in Brisbane, and who informed me that, despite the fact that he selected bags at random, much of the rag concerned was in a filthy condition, gave off a nasty odour, crumbled in the hand and, in his opinion, had practically no value whatsoever. It was necessary for the sorters to wear gas-masks while sorting. 1694: Supply Bill [REPRESENTATIVES.] (No. 1) 1946-47.

This is the material which the Deputy leader of the Opposition claimed to be of great value. Let us' now consider the contracts themselves. The only contracts that McLeod Bolton, Millar Ezzy, or S.W.I. were successful in tendering for were three parcels of mosquito netting. Each of the three firms submitted exactly the same bid, namely, £28 per ton. Yet Mr. Bolton is to-day prostituting the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League for business purposes. I intend to see that the league is put in possession of the plain facts of the case. Here are the tenders that were received for 20 tons of woollen pullovers -


Mr Harrison - What is the honorable gentleman endeavouring to prove?

Mr LAZZARINI - That the people the honorable member has been vilifying and talking about were out-bidding all the others.

Mr Harrison - What did the AuditorGeneral have to say about the making of contracts with an unregistered firm?

Mr LAZZARINI -I shall deal with the Auditor-General's report later. The plain fact is that the Commonwealth was getting a better return by dealing with these people than it would have got by dealing with anyone else. In a letter dated 9th May, 1946, addressed to the Prime Minister's Department, Mr. Conde stated : -

I am inreceipt of your letters of the 12th April and 2nd May (reference No. AF27/2/1), together with attachments relating to further statements made in the Commonwealth Parliament by the Honorable E. J. Harrison, M.P., in connexion with certain activities of the Commonwealth Salvage Commission.

In reply to your question in regard to the Prime Minister's proposed letter to Mr. Lazzarini dealing with Mr. Harrison's statements, I confirm my telephone intimation to you, that in my opinion the reply should be amplified.

Whilst I have no reason whatever to vary, nor have I any desire to amplify my report forwarded to the Prime Minister on the 2nd April, 1946, I feel that from knowledge 1 have as a result of investigation, I should deal with the statements made by Mr. Harrison in Parliament on the 29th March, 1946, and also the text of Millar Ezzy's letter of the 28th March, 1946.

There is no doubt in my mind that the " refugee firm "-

Mr Abbott - Are they refugees or not?

Mr LAZZARINI - They are not refugees. The letter continues -

There is no doubt in my mind that the " refugee firm " referred to by Mr. Harrison on the above date, and on previous occasions in Parliament, is Messrs. Associated Salvage Distributors, of Melbourne, principals of which are Messrs. Baron and Brilliant, both of whom are reputable Australian citizens - having become naturalized British subjects over twenty years ago.

Mr Harrison - Will the honorable gentleman read the Auditor-General's report ?

Mr LAZZARINI - I have the signed copy of the Auditor-General's report. I myself was instrumental in getting him to initiate the inquiry and I shall read in a moment what he reported about this specific matter. The honorable gentleman is obviously not anxious to learn the facts. The letter from Mr. Conde continues -

So far as I can. ascertain, the transaction referred to is quite in order and covered approximately twenty-five hundred-weight of sorted material, and I reiterate that in the light of the special report made to the Minister by the Auditor-General in December, 1945, no useful purpose can be served by pursuing the matter further. ... It is my opinion that in view of earlier remarks regarding the Salvage Comimission (see my report dated 2nd April, 1946), no further time should be spent pursuing or investigating statements made by Mr. Harrison in connexion with the particular transaction referred to by him.

With compliments,yours truly,

H.   G. Conde.

Mr. Conderefers to the Salvage Commission in about half a dozen lines.

Mr Harrison - Because he did not call any witnesses.

Mr LAZZARINI - That is because he says that the honorable members's statements are not worth investigating, and. I would rather take his word.

Mr Harrison - Several reputable men would have liked to be called to tell what they know.

Mr LAZZARINI - The honorable member has political " stooges " who will go into court and swear anything.

Suggest corrections