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Wednesday, 26 March 1941


Senator CUNNINGHAM (Western Australia) . - I want the Government to order a general survey of factories in Western Australia capable of assisting in the production of munitions.


Senator Collett - That proposal is not new..


Senator CUNNINGHAM - No, but it has never been put into effect.


Senator Collett - That statement is not correct.


Senator CUNNINGHAM - The proposal is so old and feeble that it is my duty to try to restore it to good health. I ask the Minister (Senator Collett) to use his influence in Cabinet to have the survey undertaken. It appears to me that the Government is ignorant of the possibilities of development in Western Australia because it has failed to use the means of production available. Recently I visited Albany on the south coast of Western Australia. Not long ago it was an important seaport but it is now neglected. A ship rarely calls there. As a result . of the tying up of shipping which, I understand, is at the disposal of the British Government, the people of Albany are unable to ship apples or pears or even wheat. The last shipment of fat lamb carcasses was in a vessel that was sunk by a raider 400 miles off the coast of Western Australia. I believe that that was the last large ship to call at Albany. There are three workshops at Albany, one of which is capable of repairing the tailshaft of a large ocean going steamer. Such a workshop ought to be capable of producing munitions even in a small way. No attempt has been made to survey the possibilities of such workshops in Western Australia. Albany has little industrial activity other than the woollen mills and that state of affairs applies also to other towns in Western Australia and no doubt many towns throughout the Commonwealth. I am not satisfied that a complete survey has been made of the possibilities of Australia to speed up munition production. In Perth there are factories equipped with lathes used in the manufacture of tools of which there is a scarcity. The Department of

Supply and Development is not in possession of all the information required for the proper carrying out of its work.


Senator Allan MacDonald - I think that the State Government of Western Australia made a survey of the possibilities of munition production in that State.


Senator CUNNINGHAM - What is important is not what the honorable senator thinks, but what I know. I am under the impression that the Minister (Senator Collett) said that a committee was appointed in Western Australia to furnish information required by the Contracts Board in Melbourne. I understand that there is such a committee in each State. I asked the Minister for Supply and Development if the committee had ever furnished a report to him. I do not think that that committee is functioning for the purpose for which it was appointed. However, the Minister for Supply and Development could inform me whether he has received any reports from the committee. I suggest that he investigate the work clone and the advice submitted by the committee so that a determination can be reached whether it should be permitted to continue functioning. I want a general survey made throughout Australia of the possibilities of industry to manufacture goods that are not now produced here but could be produced for defence purposes. I suggest that a survey should be made of the alloys associated with the manufacture of steel. In Western Australia there are large deposits of scheelite, wolfram, manganese and bismuth. Deposits of the first three minerals have been found in payable quantities. If the Government provided the financial encouragement necessary the exploitation of these mineral deposits would be expanded. There are also in Western Australia deposits of bauxite from which aluminium is extracted. It would be of great advantage to Australia if that industry could be established. There are also immense deposits of graphite in Western Australia. Even if factories were not established on a large scale for the production of munitions, great opportunities are available for a tremendous expansion of the mineral resources so necessary for the production of munitions.

An investigation should be made in connexion with the coal deposits in Western Australia. It was mentioned by Senator Fraser that there is a huge deposit of iron ore at Yampi. A preliminary survey has, I believe, been made on more than one occasion, but no permanent survey has been carried out. The Government should endeavour to build up industry and develop the resources, not of particular States, but of Australia as a whole. In many respects excellent work has been accomplished, and I do not wish to take from the Government any of the praise that it has earned in that regard; but it should not be content to rest on its laurels. The time is now opportune for greater industrial expansion than has already been achieved. There should ,be a wider distribution of defence expenditure, so as to give every State an opportunity to build up its industries. We should prepare for the period when there will he a transition from war to peace-time activities. The Government now has an opportunity to consider its defence vote, with a view to spreading war expenditure over the whole of the States with an eye to future needs.







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