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Wednesday, 24 September 1941

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) (Minister for Aircraft Production) . - in reply - I thank honorable senators for the manner in which they have received the measure. I explained in my second reading speech that when the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company Limited commenced manufacturing this wire in Australia in 1939 it intended to build up stocks in order that as soon as possible it would be able to supply the requirements of all States simultaneously. However, the war intervened ; and I can only say that Australia should be grateful for the fact that this company was so enterprising as to start this venture before the outbreak of war. We needed supplies of cable and wire urgently, yet we found that we could not get this material overseas. Consequently, it was of great advantage to the Government to find that it was able to call on this company for the urgent requirements of the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Army. The Tariff Board reported that in consequence of the company's action in making these supplies available to the Government, the company has suffered a certain loss ; and, consequently, the board recommended that the company be paid this bounty retrospectively to June, 1940. I realize that the retrospective provision in this measure is something new, but the circumstances of this particular case are unique. They were brought about simply as the result of war. I should be very sorry to see any company which was of such great assistance to Australia's war effort as this company has been, suffer any loss in respect of its great enterprise, involving considerable capital, in establishing so valuable an industry in Australia. Therefore, I ask the Senate to agree to the measure. I again remind honorable senators that no company the net profits of which on the basis mentioned exceed 8 per cent, will be entitled to receive this bounty. That percentage is inclusive of tax, so the actual percentage of profit would be something like G$ per cent. Senator Gibson fears that some difficulty will be experienced in separating the activities of these companies in order to determine sales to the Government as distinct from sales to private customers. Clause 13 of the bill provides that a manufacturer shall keep separate accounts, and that such accounts shall be subject to audit. Consequently, hon- orable senators need have no fear in that regard.

Senator Keane - Unless proper accounts are furnished no bounty will be payable.

Senator LECKIE - That is so. As a matter of fact the new company to which Senator Gibson referred will not commence operations until next December, or January, so that it will have only six months in which to draw the bounty ; and, in the meantime, as I indicated previously, the Government intends to review this matter in order to determine whether further tariff protection is required. I assure honorable senators that the company to which the bounty will be paid retrospectively has rendered excellent service in Australia's war effort in respect of the supply of not only material of this kind, but also other material.

Senator Gibson - I admit that.

Senator LECKIE - It is already supplying to the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy, and for defence purposes generally, a vast quantity of material which will not be subject to bounty at all. That quantity represents a weekly production of thousands of miles. I mentioned previously that it was supplying 3,000 miles of field cable for defence purposes. I repeat that this company has done excellent work for Australia, and it should receive every support to which an Australian industry is entitled.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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