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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator DEIN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They are not the latest figures.

Senator ASHLEY - They were issued only last week. It cannot be said that we are making a maximum war effort when there are 40,000 unemployed in one State. Those 40,000 people have a just grievance against the Government. They have a right to work in order to be able to feed and clothe themselves decently, and to house their families comfortably. As my leader has pointed out, those unemployed could be immediately engaged in various avenues in connexion with our war effort. In order to give some indication of the seriousness of the unemployment position in New South Wales I point out that the following numbers of employees have been put off by their respective firms : Acme Clothing Factory, 90 girls ; Cooney No. 2 Clothing Factory, 221 employees; Brooke's Factory, S2 employees; and Shire and Bradley, 24 employees. In the case of the two lastnamed factories, 62 machines and 24 machines, respectively, are idle. I have proved that prices for defence material are lower in New South Wales than in any other State. It is the practice of the Defence Department to allow its requirements to mount up before it attempts to place its orders. It then rushes to the Department of Supply and Development, and claims that it must have its huge orders fulfilled within a fortnight. I do not blame the Minister for Supply and Development 'for that position, but, surely, it is the duty of the Government to rectify such a state of affairs. The Defence Department must be able to estimate fairly accurately at least a couple of months beforehand, its needs for the equipment of the military trainees. The Minister explained that, owing to this rushing of orders, his department was obliged to pay as much as £2 a dozen extra for various articles of equipment. Surely, private enterprise would not work on that basis. It would estimate its requirements well beforehand to enable it to be able to place its orders to the best advantage. This state of affairs reflects upon the Government, and should be thoroughly investigated. Industry generally is anxious to assist in the national war effort, and the Government should afford every facility to every unit of industry to enable it to play its part efficiently in that work. The Commonwealth is hindering the States by preventing them from engaging in tlie production of defence requirements. It is the duty of the Government to agree to the appointment of a select committee to inquire into this matter in order that satisfaction mav be given to all.

Motion - by leave withd rawn

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