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Friday, 16 July 1915

Senator TURLEY (QUEENSLAND) - Have they not asked the Imperial Government to start works in England?

Senator MILLEN -The real difficulty arises from a feeling in the minds of English statesmen with which, whether we indorse it or not, we can fully sympathize, because it is entirely honorable to them. They say that this industry is largely a Belgian one. The British authorities naturally hesitate as to whether they are justified by Government action in taking, advantage of the position in Belgium, due to the war, to establish in England an industry which, remaining after the war is over, may rob Belgium of a very important source of national wealth.

Senator de LARGIE - That is too thin.

Senator MILLEN - Senator deLargie may jeer as much as he pleases, but I am stating a simple fact, and mentioning the influence which, in this matter, has restrained the Imperial authorities.

Senator de LARGIE - The industry is established in France as well as in Belgium.

Senator MILLEN - Its establishment is a much more important matter for Belgium than it is for France. Let me further remind the honorable senator that France to-day is not entirely in the hands of the conqueror. She might still, if she saw fit, develop her industries. Belgium is not in the same position. There is but . one little corner of Belgium that is not in German hands. I say that we are bound to pay a considerable measure of respect to the influence which has prevailed with the Imperial authorities to make them extremely cautious about taking action in this matter. The question whether we should go to the length of preventing the export of our products, unless we are absolutely certain as to what is done with them, is a matter entirely within our own discretion.

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - Has the honorable senator considered the effect which so drastic a step would have upon the industrial position here?

Senator MILLEN - Has Senator "O'Keefe considered the difference it may make in our industrial position if we go on supplying things to feed the enemy?

Senator Guthrie - Is the honorable senator prepared to advocate that the Government should deal with these products in Australia?

Senator MILLEN - That is quite another matter. If Senator Guthrie means that something might be done by the Government for the utilization of these products by the establishment of works which might be left to private enterprise, I cannot agree with him.

Senator Guthrie - I did not say that.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator is not quite fair.

Senator MILLEN - My statement is as fair as was Senator Guthrie's question to me. Neither I nor any one else would be foolish enough to affirm definitely and with particularity what should be done. I am not able, to produce ready-made j.lans for the development of new industries..

Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator says that we should stop the export of these products. "What should we do with them, if we did that?

Senator MILLEN - I said that we should stop the export of these products if there is the slightest suspicion that they will be so controlled by. German influence as to be used to our detriment. If that became necessary, what we should do with the products afterwards would be a matter for consideration when we had stopped the export. "Whatever might be the effect upon a section of the industrial life of Australia we should not hesitate to stop the export of materials which were being used for the assistance of our enemies.

Senator Pearce - We have assured ourselves, through the British Ambassador to the United States of America, that these products are being used for manufactures for Great Britain and our Allies.

Senator MILLEN - If Mr. Hughes had followed up the remarks which I have quoted by a statement that the Government had authority for saying definitely that these Australian products were not finding their way into the hands of our enemies, I should not have referred to the matter at all. I submit that Mr. Hughes' statement, and his reference to the fact that German influence controlled the metal markets of the world, and that it is being used against us, conveys th

Senator Pearce - Mr. Hughes' statement and mine are correct, and they are reconcilable to any one who knows the facts of the case.

Senator MILLEN - Of course they are reconcilable, but one is complementary of the other. Mr. Hughes left out the very important statement which Senator Pearce now supplies, that we have the authority of the Imperial representative in the United States of America for the assurance that zinc products exported from Australia to America are utilized solely in the interests of Great Britain and her Allies. That statement, following upon the statement made by Mr. Hughes, puts an entirely re-assuring asspect on the matter. I am glad to have referred to the remarks made by the AttorneyGeneral if only because it has led to the comforting assurance which the Minister of Defence has given. us.

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