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Wednesday, 1 September 1937

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -On the 27th August Senator Grant addressed the following questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice: -

1.   Has the Minister had his attention called to the statements made in the Argus of the 25th instant -

(a)   That the manufacturers of galvanized iron are from three to four months behind in their commitments?

(b)   That in some cases orders for steel sheets will be accepted - subject to delivery in about eight months from receipt of order?

(c)   That delivery of steel plates cannot be given fora period of eight to twelve months?

(d)   That for special large-sized steel plates acceptance of orders is subject to rolling about SeptemberOctober next year?

2.   If the above statements are correct, what attitude does the Government propose to take in order to make supplies available within a more reasonable time?

The Minister for Trade and Customs has now supplied the following answers-: -

1.   Yes.

2.   The delivery periods mentioned are not properly indicative of the steel position. While it is possible that some orders placed with steel manufacturers may not be completed until the periods mentioned, this is not generally the case. Merchants and manufacturers have placed orders with the steel mills covering their requirements for many months ahead and will thus be receiving steel regularly from those mills. Users may also purchase from steel merchants who hold stocks. Generally speaking, the position regarding steel supplies in most other countries is no better. An abnormal world demand exists for iron and steel because of requirements for armament purposes. This is particularly the case in the United Kingdom, where the demands for Empire defence purposes are particularly heavy. Because of the comparatively low price of Australian-made iron and steel some users who formerly preferred to import their requirements are anxious now to purchase from local sources. Australian steel manufacturers have recently expended large sums in plant extensions in order to cope with the normal Australian demand. There is little doubt that Australian steel producers have taken, and are still taking, all possible steps to meet the position. When the price factor is taken into consideration Australian users are being better served as regards iron and steel requirements than are users in most countries. There is nothing which the Government can be expected to do to make supplies available. It is the function of traders, not the Government, to import any requirements which Australian steel-makers cannot meet.

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