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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - Honorable senators will agree that carping criticism of the Government's war effort cannot be justified. The task before the Government is colossal. Whatever party were in power at the present time would, as a government, be obliged to meet our present problems in the same way as this Government is doing. I pay a tribute to the Government, to those captains of industry who are co-operating in our war effort, and also to those experts who are advising the Government as to the best way in which the resources of this country can be utilized in the present crisis. Therefore, I, personally, have no criticism to offer of the Government's major policy in this matter. All parties agree on the Government's defence policy. Senator Ashley has made allegations which, if they be well-founded, must be regarded very seriously. I feel sure that if the honorable senator possesses information which discloses improper conduct in respect of the letting of defence contracts, those allegations will be readily and thoroughly investigated. I have no doubt that the honorable senator's only motive in raising these matters is to ensure that the right thing is done. However, I deprecate the characteristic outlook of the honorable senator in playing one State against another in so serious a national crisis as now confronts us. He should remember that our war effort is a national war effort. It is only natural that the Government should make the greatest use of existing heavy industries, irrespective of the State in which they may be located. The honorable senator must know that, so far as the Government is concerned, this is not a matter of New South Wales versus Victoria. However, he has made that his main issue. Looking at the figures quoted by the Minister, the honorable senator should feel very happy about the position of New South

Wales. The expenditure in that State has been of such huge proportions that it could not possibly escape the notice of any honorable senator. Senator Ashley, for instance, did not even mention the expenditure on the construction of >a graving dock in Sydney, which will amount to millions of pounds. That work has been undertaken in New South Wales, not in order to appease that State, but solely on the advice of experts. I repeat that if the Opposition were in power it would be guided by the same basic principles by which the Government is guided to-day, namely, the advice of its military experts and our captains of industry. Honorable senators opposite would' then he only too anxious to .call the latter to their assistance, despite their past repeated denunciations of our industrial leaders.

In dealing with this problem, the Government should not overlook the claims of the less populous States. Experts very often pay no regard to government policy, and, consequently, .there is a danger of many of our war industries being localized in two or three States. I. urge the Government to watch carefully lids aspect of the problem, and to beatin mind at .all tames its duty to safeguard the interests of the less populous States. Wherever possible, expenditure on the production of munitions and war material should be allocated to those States. The Minister misunderstood my interjection. I do not suggest that skilled nien in Tasmania whose services are needed in other States should remain in Tasmania, but delay in using industries in the less populous States, which have been expanded in anticipation of receiving war orders, will deplete those States of skilled workmen. Men drawn from one State to work in another State are apt to become citizens of that State. Every reduction of population increases the disabilities of States in compensation for- which this Parliament makes annual grants. That being the case, it is time that the Government took full advantage of .industrial facilities offering in the less populous States. I agree with Senator Lamp that representations on behalf; of Tasmania have been made to the Government. I shall no.t discuss those representations beyond saying that the

Government should give favorable consideration to the requests made. The Government has appointed technical advisers whose advice must not be disregarded, but they tend to advise that the man-power resources of the less populous States should be tapped so that the policy of centralizing industry may be maintained. That policy, if persisted in, will increase the acuteness of the housing problem in industrial centres on the mainland and leave vacant in the other States business premises and houses which will be a liability to the local authorities in those States, and consequently to the States themselves. Tasmania's engineering shops are well equipped, not to engage in heavy industry, but to make a substantial contribution to our output of armaments. If necessary, components manufactured in Tasmania could be assembled in the industrial centres on the mainland. Another way in which Tasmania could assist in the war effort is in the provision of service clothing. I do not ask or expect that clothing should be made- in Tasmania at, costs higher than on the mainland, but I emphasize that clothing factories in Tasmania increased their equipment at. the invitation of the Defenceauthorities in order to share in the work. 1 believe that where the Commonwealth Government can either give or withhold it should give. It .must not lose sight of the benefit that will in the long run accrue generally if the less populous States are given an equitable share of defence expenditure.

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