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Friday, 12 July 1946

Mr FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) . - The senseless restrictions and prohibitions imposed, by the Division of Import Procurement with regard to import . licences is seriously jeopardizing primary production. Numbers of complaints have reached me regarding the overbearing and unpractical interference of this division with essential imports ranging from hand separators to ballbearings. For instance, a large number of ball-bearings is used in the manufacture of harvesting machines. There has been an acute shortage of these bearings during the war. Last season production of agricultural machinery was maintained only by procuring quantities of these bearings by air from Britain, although the freight for this means of transport was extremely high. In an effort to avoid similar troubles this year, Australian manufacturers approached British suppliers to make early shipments against old standing orders for the bearings which are required for this season's programme. However, British manufacturers were overloaded with work and indicated that there was one .type of bearing which they could not provide.

Adequate quantities of this particular type were available from the Swedish S.K.F. company from stock, and accordingly it was approached and it agreed to supply the bearings. Application was made in December- last to the Division of Import Procurement for an import licence in respect of these bearings. Throe months later, on - the 26th March this year, the licence was refused on the ground that these bearings could be manufactured in Great Britain. At that very' time, bearing manufacturers in Britain were trying to obtain quantities of the same kind of bearings from Swedish sources, because of the acute shortage in Great Britain. Latest advices are that British manufacturers cannot commence shipment for at least another fourteen weeks' - which means that delivery cannot be given here until towards the end of the year. The result of this nine months' delay .has been the tying up of agricultural machinery for lack of one essential bearing, procurable in' Sweden, and unavailable in Britain, for which the Division of Import Procurement continues to refuse an import licence. It may be argued that the policy is one of solicitude for British manufacturers. But here is another case which shows the incorrectness of such an assumption. Certain agricultural implements supplied to farmers by Australian manufacturers contain .a box of tools, among which is a 1-lb. hammer. These hammers had been imported from Britain for many years. Further supplies were ordered early in 1945, but the application for a licence was refused by thc Division of Import Procurements. Meanwhile the hammers were sent from Britain, and arrived here six months after the end of the war. Thereupon they were confiscated as prohibited imports, and the farmers had to go without them.

Roller chain is another essential item needed for the manufacture of agricultural implements. Australian firms were informed early in January this year that British manufacturers would be entirely unable to fulfil Australian requirements for this season, and consequently urgent inquiries were made throughout the United States of America. The result was that deliveries of portion of the Australian requirements were promised for delivery by June. Application for an import licence was made early in May. It was not until seven weeks afterwards that the Australian applicants were informed by the Division of Import Procurement ; hat chain for " new manufacture " and chain for " replacement parts " had to lie segregated. The licence for new manufacture had to be applied for in Melbourne, but that for replacements would lie dealt with by the Sydney office of the division. The licences were issued on i lie 25th June - nearly two months after the date of the application. Meanwhile the need was so urgent that the chain was loaded on shipboard and the manufacturers undertook the risk and possible financial loss of having the chain confiscated here if the licence happened to !><> refused. as in the case of the hammers mentioned previously. There was extreme urgency in this case, every day was vital if machines were to be ready for the harvesting season.

Mv main interest in bringing this matter forward is on behalf of the primary producers of this country. Every effort should he made to keep them supplied with the necessary machines and implements for the maintenance of production. The Government's policy is imposing great difficulty on the manufacturers of these implements. In fact, it seems- that the ordinary import policy of this country has been superseded by the haphazard, dilatory and often illogical action of the Division of Import Procurement. It is useless for the Government to give lip-service to the farmers about its desire to increase production, and to send tractor-investigating missions overseas, headed by the DirectorGeneral of Agriculture, while at the same rime the bottlenecks in the Division of Import Procurement exercise an everincreasing internal stranglehold on Australian production

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