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Wednesday, 24 July 1946


Sir Earle Page asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice-

1.   In view of the steady decline in dairy production and the continuous reduction in the number of dairy cows in milk and the shortage of dairy heifers coming on to replace them, will he prepare a comparative statement of the position of the relative numbers in 1939-40 and 1.945-40?

2.   Will he secure from the officers of his department or. if necessary, the State Agriculture Departments an estimate of the number of years before the enlargement of the dairy herds could restore pre-war milk production, and also an estimate of the incentive price necessary to stimulate action in this direction by the dairy farmers of Australia in increasing their herds?


Mr Scully - The answers to- the honorable member's questions, are as follows: - ]. Figures relating to numbers of dairy heifers in Australia are not available for years prior to 1943, and the figures for 1946 for all classes of dairy cattle are not yet available. The following table sets out comparative figures as at the beginning of 1940, the 3>lst March, 1043, and 3 1st "March. 1945:-

 

2.   Milk, production in 1939-40 was 1,254,000,000 gallons. Owing to the war and drought seasons the supply decreased to approximately 1.048,000,000 gallons in 1945-40. It is estimated that, it will take another five years before enlargement of dairy herds will reach a level capable of increasing the production of milk to pro-war' level.

Commonwealth Bank : Housing and

Industrial Loans. i"


Mr Chifley y. - On the 16th July, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) asked a question regarding advances made by the Commonwealth Bank for housing and industrial purposes.

I now inform the honorable member that, during the six months from the inception of housing loans to the 30th June, 1946, 961 Credit Foncier loans to individuals were approved for a total amount of £920,000. In addition^ finance totalling £5,100,000 has been approved for building societies since the end of the war. From the inception of the Industrial Finance Department on the 2nd January, 1946, to the -30th June, 1946, 1,033 advances were approved, totalling £1,571,615.

Import Licences.


Mr Forde e. - On' the 12th July, the right honorable member .for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) on the motion for the adjournment/ complained at some length about the administration of import licensing regulations by the Division of Import Procurement. The honorable member mentioned, in particular, ballbearings for harvested- machines, 1-lb. hammers supplied with certain agricultural implements, and 'roller-chain for agricultural implements.

It is not possible, from the particulars given, to identify definitely the bam- ' bearing transactions, but I have ascertained that an application for the importation of ball-bearings from Sweden was received by the Division of Import Procurement on the 23rd January, 1946, no supporting data being given. ' On the 27 th February, the applicant was advised that licence would be granted for 4,544 bearings, but that the balance of 1,900 bearings was available from United Kingdom sources. This advice was based on the best information available to the department. The licence was issued on the 7th March - six weeks after receipt of the application, not three months as charged by the right honorable member. Only in June was the department advised of possible difficulty in obtaining delivery from the United Kingdom and subsequent information from the United Kingdom indicated that at least half of the most important types could be delivered within twelve to fourteen weeks. It is the practice of the department to check applications for import licences for ball-bearings first against surplus stocks held- by the Department of ' Munitions and secondly against available supplies from the United Kingdom. However, to avoid the possibility of harmful delays, the Division of Import Procurement some time ago authorized the granting of licences to a total value of £20,000 c.i.f. & e. to S.K.F.- Ball Bearing Company (Australia) Proprietary Limited, without such check. In regard to 1-lb. hammers, the particulars given are insufficient to identify the transaction in the departmental records, but if the right honorable member will supply more details, a further inquiry will be made. Three applications were received (on the 13th, 14th , and 20th May respectively) for licences to import roller-chain. The issue of licences in respect of all three applications was authorized on the 20th June. During the war, stocks of motorvehicle and tractor spare parts were maintained by Government purchase in order to avoid break-downs of essential equipment. The slight delay which occurred was unavoidable, as it was necessary to check the goods shown on the applications against remaining stocks. The right honorable member will realize that the process of checking licence applications against available supplies, first inside Australia and secondly from sterling sources, which is essential if our limited overseas currency resources are to be conserved for essential requirements, inevitably involves a certain amount of delay. The delays encountered are not excessive in view of the great volume of transactions involved.

Empire TRADE Preference.


Mr Forde - On the 19th July, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) asked a question concerning the conditions governing the application of preferential rates of duty on goods produced by Empire countries.

The Minister for Trade and Customs has now informed me that duties under the Australian Customs Tariff are payable on goods in the condition in which they are imported, and not on the materials as such which are used in their manufacture. The tariff does not prescribe British Empire Preferential rates of duty. The tariff preferences granted by the Commonwealth are the subjects of separate agreements with the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada and the ' Dominion of New Zealand. The rates of duty, and therefore the margins of preference, negotiated with these countries vary and, in view of this, variation an Empire qualifying content is not practicable but the value of Australian materials used in making goods for which, on importation, preference is claimed may be included in calculating the qualifying content. The honorable member may be referring to a recent case in which material of United Kingdom origin was used in the manufacture of certain goods in New Zealand. The finished goods were not the produce or manufacture of New Zealand, as prescribed, that is/less than 50 per cent, of their factory cost was represented by New Zealand and Australian labour and material, and duty at the General Tariff rate was correctly leviable. Similar material is made in Australia, and if such material had been used in the manufacture of the goods in New Zealand, the finished goods would have been admitted at the special rate of duty applicable to goods when the produce or manufacture of New Zealand.

This special preferential rate of duty is lower than that applicable to such goods when of United- Kingdom origin. In addition, the finished goods are of a kind made in Australia in substantial" quantities. Any change along the lines suggested by the honorable member would be inimical, to Australian industry.

SS. "Katoomba".

Mr.Chifley. - On the 19th July, the honorable member for "Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked questions in the following terms : -

1.   Have maritime unions in Sydney declared black the steamer Katoomba?

2.   Has the Prime Minister read the statement attributed to the secretary of the Council of Maritime Unions, Mr. E. V. Elliott, that those unions are confident of being able to prevent this . vessel from sailing?

3.   Is not Katoomba now operating under Greek ownership?

4.   What action is intended by the Government with a view to preserving the existing friendly relations between Greece and Australia?

The answers' to the questions, as enumerated above, are as follows: -

1.   I understand that Katoomba has been declared black- by the Trades and Labour Council in Sydney.

2.   No. . .

3.   Yes.

4.   Conversations are proceeding between the owners and the maritime unions, and I' am hopeful that a settlement will be reached.

Northern Territory: Ambulance at Tennant Creek; Tobacco Supplies.


Mr Blain (NORTHERN TERRITORY) n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

Will he arrange for an ambulance to be provided in conjunction with the public hospital at Tennant Creek?


Mr Johnson - An ambulance service which meets present requirements is provided at Tennant Creek by means of a utility car. When new ambulances become available, consideration will be given to stationing one at Tennant Creek.


Mr Blain n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Custom's, upon notice -

To whom in the southern States should the people of the Northern Territory apply to secure, through the tobacco manufacturers' system of rationing, their supplies of tobacco in the Northern Territory?


Mr FORDE (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer : -

As the honorable member is no doubt aware, the Commonwealth Government has had no control of tobacco distribution since the repeal of the National Security (Tobacco Rationing) Regulations last March. I suggest that the honorable member direct his inquiries to the Tobacco Manufacturers Committee, Box 5014, G.P.O., Sydney.







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