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Tuesday, 16 July 1946

Mr Fadden n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

What is a reasonable approximation, based on the comparable figures of £33,000,000 given in respect of the financial year 1944-45, of the arrears of tax as yet uncollected in respect of assessments for prior years which had not been issued at the 30th June, 1946?

Mr Chifley - Sufficient information is not available at this date to enable the arrears of tax unassessed at the 30th June, 1946, to be estimated with any degree of accuracy, but the amount could possibly be £50,000,000.

Postmaster-General's Department : Delivery of Second-class Mail Matter.

Mr Chifley y.- On the 19th June, the honorable member for Darwin ' (Dame Enid Lyons) asked the following question : -

In view of the delays that are occurring in the delivery of second-class mail matter, by reason of existing transport difficulties, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government will consider the possibility of converting suitable service aircraft and of making them the property of the Postmaster-General's Department, for the delivery of mails to all outlying parts of the Commonwealth, including Tasmania ?

As the honorable member is aware, the Government has set up the Australian National Airlines Commission to be its instrument for operating such government air services as may be established. The Government's policy is to give air conveyance only to mail matter on which a surcharge has been paid, although several departures from this policy have been made, notably in the case of firstclass mails between Tasmania and the mainland, which are carried without surcharge in both directions. Consideration will be given to the carriage of first-class and possibly also second-class mails without surcharge when the commission has established a reasonable network of services, but the present cost of such carriage would be prohibitive.

War Risk Bonus.

Mr Chifley y. - On the 20th June the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked for information regarding the payment of the war risk bonus to coastal seamen working ships north of Townsville.

The present rates payable to Australian seamen are -

Twenty-five per cent, on interstate and intra-state ships trading south of Townsville and Port Hedland (15 per cent, in Spencer and St. Vincent Gulfs).

Thirty-three and one-third per cent, for interstate and intra-state ships trading south of these points.

Fifty per cent, for overseas ships going north of Townsville and Port Hedland from last Australian port on the outward voyage to first Australian port on. the homeward voyage.

The position overseas at present is that in America, which has a rather complicated system of bonus, the total bonuses payable have been reduced but increases of wages have been granted which compensate in part for the reduction. In. Great Britain the monthly bonus of £10 for men and £5 for boys still applies. In New Zealand also the war risk bonus is still being paid to seamen. The Government has given consideration on several occasions to the subject of the war risk bonus, and it is likely that an alteration of the conditions governing payments on the Australian coast will be made contemporaneously with the abolition or reduction of such payments by the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other British governments.

Zinc DRoss

Mr. FORDE- On the 26th June the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) asked a question concerning exports of zinc dross, which, he suggested, were jeopardizing the production of zinc oxide.

The Minister for Trade and Customs has now informed me that the Department of Works and Housing controls supplies of zinc oxide. Inquiries of that department have shown that available supplies of zinc dross are not at present sufficient to meet domestic requirements for production of zinc oxide. It is understood that some supplies of zinc dross and zinc dust are being accumulated with a view to subsequent exportation. The Minister for Trade and Customs has therefore issued instructions to his department that steps are to be taken forthwith te control exports of these commodities pending consideration of the question of imposing an export prohibition on them.

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