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Wednesday, 26 March 1941


Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales) . - in reply - The Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McBride) stated as a reason, partly, for the centralization of the production of munitions and war material in Victoria, that three factories were in existence in that State compared with one in New South Wales.


Senator Gibson - He said that that was the case at the beginning of the war, not to-day.


Senator ASHLEY - Yes, and prior to the outbreak of the war. I remind the Minister that on several occasions in this chamber I have urged the advantage of establishing factories adjacent to the source of supply of basic raw materials such as coal, iron and steel. I then endeavoured to illustrate my point by showing that if private enterprise intended to erect a coke works, f or instance, it would build them adjacent to supplies of coal. The Minister emphasized that a higher percentage of machine tools is being made in New South Wales than in Victoria. I do not deny that fact. However, I feel sure that it will be found that those tools are being made by big engineering firms such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Australian Iron and Steel Limited, and such firms which are the wealthy friends of the Government. The Minister must recollect a deputation of small manufacturers which waited upon him in Sydney some time ago. They stated that they could increase tenfold their facilities for the production of machine tools within a very short time if the Government gave them the requisite orders.


Senator McBride - When we asked the same men to do some turning work on another project they said that they did not have the capacity.


Senator ASHLEY - I am simply repeating what the deputation told the Minister.


Senator McBride - But the statement was not true.


Senator ASHLEY - One firm, which was represented on that deputation, has since received orders for machine tools. It is turning out two or three lathes a day. Is that correct?


Senator McBride - Not a day.


Senator ASHLEY - I shall check up on that point. When my time expired in my opening speech I was stressing the fact that I have never suggested that the Government's defence expenditure should be allocated between the States on a £1 for £1 basis. I contend that the Government should allocate this expenditure, having regard to the economic advantages, the severity of unemployment, and the natural resources in particular States. Senator Herbert Hays declared that the Government is confronted with a colossal task, and is endeavouring to do a good job. I entirely agree with that statement. Every honorable senator realized the magnitude of the task which confronted the Government at the outbreak of the war, but we on this side say that, surely, after eighteen months the Government should now be in a position to rectify such anomalies and wrongs as have been pointed out in this debate. When the honorable senator was speaking I interjected that there were 40,000 unemployed in New South

Wale3, and another honorable senator opposite denied my statement. According to a statement issued by the New South Wales Government last week there are 2S,000 males, 7,000 females and 1.0,000 youths unemployed in that State.







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