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Tuesday, 16 July 1946

Mr Harrison n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that licences to import Swiss watches were issued to ex-servicemen for « the purpose of assisting them to rehabilitate themselves in their pre-war occupations of watchmakers or jewellers?

2.   If so, should applications for these licences have been limited to ex-servicemen who were bona fide watchmakers or jewellers?

3.   Was the spirit of the Re-establishment and Employment Act observed in granting a licence to import Swiss watches to a barrister and member of the House of Representatives?

4.   If so, where would the preference lie under the act for the issue of such licence, and does such preference entitle a barrister and member of the House of Representatives to the same privilege, as regards a licence as that extended to an ex-serviceman who was a bona fide watchmaker or jewelle'r?

5.   Will he state when the Election Importing Company was established in Australia, and when the company established its base year for quota purposes?

6.   Is it a fact that at the time when this company was granted an additional licence to import Swiss watches, licences to import were refused legitimate merchants?

7.   Is it a fact that, at that time, ample supplies of Swiss watches were available for import?

Mr Forde - The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -

1.   Licences were granted to ex-servicemen for the purpose of assisting them in rehabilitating themselves. A condition that the applicants had previously been engaged in the watch-making or jewellery trade was not a prerequisite to the grant of quotas.

2.   No. See answer to No. 1. 3 and 4. The precise terms of the Reestablishment and Employment Act were not taken into consideration in determining that a quota should be granted to an ex-serviceman. The spirit of that act was, however, observed in making the allocations.

5.   The principal of the Election Importing Company arrived in Australia in 1938 with an agreement to sell "Election"brand watches in this country. The Election Importing Company proved base-year returns in February, 1940, which establishes the fact that it was an importer during the fiscal year 1938-39.

6.   It is not clear whatis implied by the term " legitimate merchants ". If it is intended to refer to quota-holders, then the answer is that such firms would be entitled to apply for and secure licences within the limits of their quotas. No applications for special licences were received from quota-holders at the time the Election Importing Company was granted an additional licence to import Swiss watches.

7.   Representations from the trade did not support this view. Information furnished always referred to difficulties which were being encountered because of enemy action.

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