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Friday, 9 August 1946

Mr Chifley y. - On the 5th July, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked the following questions, upon notice: -

1.   What was the date of the formation of (a) the6th Division, (b) the 7th Division, (c) the 8th Division, and (d) the 9th Division of the Second Australian Imperial Force; and at what date did each first go into action against the enemy?

2.   How many 8-in. cruisers, 6-in. cruisers, armed merchant cruisers, destroyers, sloops, mine-sweepers, hospital ships, boom defence vessels, tribal-class destroyers, AMS vessels, and corvettes were in commission by 1st October, 1941?

3.   What was the number of service squad- rons with ancillary units, and the total personnel of the Royal Australian Air Force on 1st October, 1941?

4.   What was the total personnel of enlistments for the Empire air training scheme up to 1st October, 1941?

5.   What was the number of annexes and munition factories either built or being built in country and city by 1st October, 1941?

6.   In which towns or cities were these establishments situated?

7.   What was the total number employed in government munition factories, annexes, and naval and merchant ship-building establishments on 1st October, 1941?

8.   What was the total production of Australianbuilt aeroplanes delivered by 31st December, 1941 ?

9.   How many Australian-built aeroplanes were sold or were on order for delivery to the United Kingdom and the adjacent allied countries up to 3 1st December, 1941?

A reply was furnished to the right honorable gentleman on- the 10fh July advising that the information was being obtained and would be furnished as early as practicable. The information requested is as follows: -

1.   'Hie dates of the Commonwealth Gazette notices authorizing the raising of the formations were - 6th Division, 12th October, 1939; 7th Division, 11th April, 1940; 8th Division, 20th June, 1940; 9th Division, 17th October, 1940. Although elements of several Of the divisions went into action at earlier dates, the first occasions on which the formations took part in major actions were - 6th Division, Srd January, 1941 : 7th Division, 8th June, 1941; 8th Division,' 14th January, 1942; 9th Division, 4th April, 1941.

2.   Eight-in. cruisers, 2; six-in. cruisers, 4; a l ined merchant ships, 2; destroyers, 8; sloops, *>; Australian mine-sweepers, 34 ;> hospital ships, nil: hoorn defence vessels, 6; tribal-class destroyers, nil; A.M.S. vessels (corvettes), 10.

3.   Service squadrons with ancillary units, 20. Total personnel - Royal Australian Air Force. ftfl.340: Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Korea, '4 73: total 56,813. ' "

4.   Total enlistments from the 3rd September, 1!)30, to the 1st October, 1941, approximated 53,300 Royal Australian Air Force personnel, viz.. 14,000 aircrew trainees for the Empire air training scheme and 30,300 in ground staff musterings for all Royal Australian Air Force purposes. As considerable numbers of ground staff personnel were employed in establishments such as stores and equipment, maintenance and repair depots, and certain other units performing dual functions connected with the Empire air training schools and other Royal Australia.ii Air Force commitments, it is not practicable to give the precise number of enlistments effected exclusively for the Empire air training scheme.

5.   Annexes in city and country - Built and being built, 77. Munitions factories and establishments - built, 14; being built, 14.

B.   Annexes. - Sydney (metropolitan area), 24; Newcastle, 9; Melbourne (metropolitan urea), 2-4: Castlemaine, 1; Geelong, 1: Maryvale. 1: Brisbane (metropolitan area), 1; Toowoomba. 1: Adelaide (metropolitan area), I; Perth ( area.). 4; 'Hobart, 1; Launceston, 1: total, 77. Munitions factories and establishments. - Built - Lithgow. 1: Bathurst, 1; Melbourne (metropolitan area), 7: Derrimut. 1 : Ballarat, 1; Adelaide (metropolitan area), 3; total, 14. (Several of these were already established before the outbreak of war.) Being built- Sydney (metropolitan aTea)-, 1: Orange, 1; St. Mary'S, I: Rutherford, 1; Melbourne (metropolitan area), 1; Bendigo, 1; Salisbury, 1 ;. Smithfield, 1; Brisbane (metropolitan area), 2; Perth (metropolitan area), 2; Hobart (metropolitan urea), 2; total, 14.

7.   Government munitions factories - Males, 21,733; females, 6,570; total, 28,303. Annexes (approximate), 11,000. Merchant shipbuilding establishments and naval ship-building establishments, 5,768.

8.   At the 31st December, 1941, deliveries of aircraft from Australian factories were: Training types - Tiger Moths 718, Wackett Trainers 100, Wirraways 491, a total of 1,309; bombers - Beauforts, 10.

9.   At the 31st December, 1941, the following . orders had been placed for delivery overseas, principally for United Kingdom requirements: - Beauforts, 180; Wirraways, 245; Tiger Moths, 520. Deliveries against these orders were: - Beauforts, 6; Wirraways, nil; Tiger Moths, 335 (137 shipped without engines). Deliveries of the 335 Tiger Moths were to the following countries: - Burma 2, India 41, Netherlands East Indies 56, Medan 2, New Zealand 20. South Africa (Rhodesia) 214.

Australian Prisoners of War : Dependants' Allotments ; Subsistence ALLOWANCES

Mr Forde - On the -31st July, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following question: -

Will the Minister for the Army reply at an early date to two requests that I have made to him from time to. time, by letter and in questions in' this House, namely, first, that allotments paid between the date on which a prisoner of war was posted as missing and the date when he was presumed to be dead, be no longer deducted from the estates of the deceased men; and secondly, when will the' subject of pay in lieu of furlough be adjusted, so that the dependants of those who died before the date in 1945 fixed by War Cabinet will no longer be deprived of this pay?

I informed him at the time that both of these questions would receive consideration and replies would be given to him before the House rose. The replies to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

The question of the deduction of overpaid allotments from the estates of deceased mcn has been under consideration from time to time, and on 10th April last I furnished a detailed reply in the House .to questions raised by the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Balaclava. It was then stated that no recoveries were effected in any instances from dependants, or from allottees who, though shown by the soldier concerned at the time of making the allotment to be non-dependent, were able to produce proof that they were in fact dependent or partly dependent on the soldier. I have given further careful consideration to the position of other nondependants, but regret that I cannot see my way to depart from the decision already given.

On the subject of pay in lieu of recreation leave due at the time of the death of a member of the forces, this question is atpresent under consideration,but due to the fact that records of recreation leave of members of the forces which were maintained in the earlier years of the war are not in a satisfactory state, it would be difficult to determine the amount of pay in lieu of such leave that would be due to the estates of such members, if approval were, given to making this decision retrospective. The honorable member will be informed immediately a decision is given.

Mr.Forde. - On the 26th July, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) referred to questions which had been asked by him on several occasions as to the need for payment of subsistence allowance of 3s. a day to men who were captured by the Japanese and held as prisoners of wor for three and a half years. I advised the honorable member that I would further investigate this matter, and now desire to state that, as a result of the further investigations that have been made, it is not proposed to authorize the payment as suggested by him of a subsistence allowance to prisoners of war while in enemy hands.

The representations that were made by the honorable member in the House of Representatives on the 12th July, 1946, and the further representationsmade by him on the 26th July, 1946, were specially considered before arriving at this decision.

Thehonorable member in his representations on this subject has referred to the payment of field allowance to officers, and has suggested that, because of such payment, a subsistence allowance of 3s. a day is justified for other ranks. There are a number of factors which must be taken into consideration in dealing with this case, but the most important one is the necessity for ensuring that no special privileges are extended to one section of the forces that would create an injustice or inequality of treatment. When the position of members of the Australian fighting forces held in cap- . tivity by. the Japanese was considered by the Government, it was decided that the pay and allowances of these members should be continued at the daily rate applicable to their rank, and that no debits should be raised against their pay during the period of their captivity. Under this decision, as field allowance was an allowance in the nature of pay which was credited to an officer's pay account throughout the whole of his service, it was automatically continued during the period of the officer's captivity, in the same way as it was continued to officers while taking part in active service operations against the enemy.

The honorable member has suggested that, because of the payment of field allowance, other ranks should receive a subsistence allowance of an equivalentamount. Careful consideration has been given to his representations, but such an allowance cannot be approved, because it would automatically involve' the payment of subsistence allowance to all members of the forces, whether in captivity or otherwise, who because of military operations, or for any other service reason, could not be provided with meals and rations under conditions which were normally applicable when those forces were at rest in base areas or at their nome stations.

Honorable mem'bers will be aware that, under active service conditions, it was not always possible to provide the troops with service rations, and that this situation existed throughout the whole of the period of the war in North Africa. Greece, Crete, Syria and in the South - West Pacific area, and I quote from a communique received while the fighting was in progress in the Owen Stanleys in the early stages of the New Guinea campaign:-

During this campaignin the Owen Stanleys our troops were supplied by aircraft by free dropping. Their supplies were calculated at 5 lb. per man per day - 2% lb. of ammunition and21/2 lb. of dry rations - and they had to live and fight upon it. They had to climb over precipitous mountains; mostly ankle deep or knee deep in mud. It rained continuously and they were seldom dry. At times they were 7,000 feet up in the mountains where the nights were bitterly cold, with half ablanket to protect them. They carried weights up to 00 lb. on their backs, but they never grumbled. On the contrary, they carried on with that spirit of self-sacrifice which has always dis tinguished our Australian soldier.

It would be illogical and unjust to pay a subsistence allowance to prisoners of war and not pay a similar allowance to. members who fought under conditions such as these. As already indicated,it is the view of the Government that the treatment that has been accorded to prisoners of war in relation to their pay accounts is not illiberal, and it is not proposed to depart from the payments now authorized under the Regulations and existing conditions.

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