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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr FORDE - I am not aware that any of the service departments is at present acquiring building materials and selling them below cost. Definitely, that is not true. I remind the honorable member for Balaclava that the service departments do not themselves sell surplus materials. All their surplus equipment is handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, which, at duly advertised sales held periodically, sells to the highest bidder. There is not a scintilla of truth in the "furphy" that I approved the sale of certain timber in north Queensland for shipment to New Guinea. I did not know of its existence. This allegation was brought to my notice in another way. The Minister for Supply and Shipping inquired into the. matter, and furnished a very adequate reply to a question by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) on the subject. That timber was declared surplus by the Army authorities in the ordinary routine way, and was handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for sale. That sale was duly advertised. The timber had been used on three previous occasions in the construction, of Army huts and was full of holes. I was informed that it was unsuitable for use in the erection of homes in Australia.

Mr White - Will that timber be shipped to New Guinea?

Mr FORDE - I do not know its ultimate destination. Ministers do not follow every successful bidder to see what he does with his purchases. The successful bidder for material . is at liberty to use his purchases for any purpose that he desires. I understand that the buyer of this timber intends to use it for the construction of huts somewhere in New Guinea for the conduct of mission work, but that is not a matter that I have anything to do with.

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