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Friday, 9 August 1946

Mr Rankin (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -

1.   Has he seen Air Vice-Marshal Bostock's statement that documents exist containing grave charges by senior operational officers of unwarranted delays by the Air Board?

2.   Will he table in Parliament two official minutes signed by senior war-time officers in which grave charges of unwarranted delays are made?

3.   Will he also table RoyalAustralian Air Force Head-quarters signal No. PP486, dated 1 7th November, 1943, in whichreasons are given for the withdrawal of one Air Board member from a war-time post?

4.   Is it a fact that the latter advised the removal of Air Commodore Hewitt from Operational Command in the interests of morale and discipline"?

5.   If so, why was Air Commodore Hewitt appointed Air Member for Personnel, virtually controlling all morale and discipline in the service?

Mr Drakeford (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Air) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes. 2, 3 and 4. The minutes (which were dated early 1942) and the signal referred to - like all reports relating to officers of all forces - are highly confidential documents and must be treated as such. The tabling or the making public otherwise of any departmental or service documents of such a highly confidential character would be a serious breach of wellrecognized governmental policy and practice . of long standing.

5.   When making selections of officers for appointments to the higher administrative and command posts, full consideration is invariably given to the complete service records of all officers regarded as most suitably qualified for such appointments. That procedure was followed in the selection of the present occupant of the post of Air Member for Personnel, who, by the very efficient manner in which he has discharged his duties and responsibilities in that capacity, has fully justified his selection for that responsible position in which he has the confidence of the Government.

Been Gun Carrier Parts.

Mr Dedman n. - Recently, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) asked a question concerning the disposal of spare parts for Bren gun carriers.

The Minister for Supply and Shipping has now furnished the following reply: -

Any purchaser of Bren gun carriers not in a position to obtain spare parts should contact the regional manager of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission in the Statein which, he is located. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission does not sell retail, but is in a position to advise inquirers of any firm which carries stocks, or when the next auction sale of Bren gun carrier spare parts will take place. Stocks of Bren gun carrier parts, mainly surpluses from uncompleted contracts, arc vastly in excess of any needs by purchasers of Bren gun carriers, and the commission's normal method is to quit such stocks by public auction. If the honorable member for Corangamite will advise me of the name of the primary producer concerned.I will arrange for the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to fully inform him of sources of supply for such parts ashe might require in the future.

Petroleum Products: Motor Cylinder Oil.

Mr Forde e. - On the 26th July, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith) asked whether I was aware that the price of motor cylinder oil had increased 50 per cent, above pre-war levels, and whether I would cause investigations to be made to ascertain why motor cylinder oil had not been reduced in price correspondingly with other petroleum products.

I have now been informed by the Minister for Trade and Customs that it is a fact that the prices of motor cylinder oils rose approximately 50 per cent, above pre-war levels, but no increase has taken place since the 12th April, 1943, and since that date a price reduction has been made. Further, additional price reductions will be made as soon as reductions of the cost of motor cylinder oil indicate that such are justified, as has already been done with other petroleum products.

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