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Wednesday, 19 November 1941

Senator COLLINGS - The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Government is aware of the necessity for rendering all possible assistance to Russia in the present conflict and every endeavouris being made within our capacity to meet the needs of that country with as little delay as possible. The Government has decided to supply, at Commonwealth expense, items of medical equipment required by Russia of which a surplus existsin Australia.It will also recognize public appeals for funds to provide other items of medical supplies to be purchased abroad. Permission will be given for money so raised to be sent outside Australia: With a view to meeting Russian requirements of raw materials, foodstuffs, &c, the Commonwealth Government is in close collaboration with the Government of the United Kingdom. It is actually a question of utilizing transport facilities to the best advantage. In the present emergency, the Soviet Governmentis anxious that all the available shipping bo reserved for the carriage of urgently required military equipment and commodities of direct war importance. Shortly after the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Germany, the authorities at Moscow consulted the United Kingdom Government and the Government of the United States of America, and indicated that there were special commodities which they desired to procure as early as possible from the British Empire or the United States of America. In response to that appeal, prompt action was taken to meet the more pressing Soviet requirements. Included in the early shipments were consignments of wool and lead from Australia. The Soviet Government has maintained close consultation with the United Kingdom Government, acting on behalf of the British Empire, and the Government of the United States of America. This three-party collaboration, which was extended in the Moscow Conference, has been an important factor in co-ordinating Empire and American plans for assisting Russia. Such co-ordination is essential, of course, to ensure that the requirements of the Soviet Government are supplied from the readiest source without wasteful duplication, and with proper regard to the demands of the Empire's own war effort. The Commonwealth Government has been kept informed of developments, and the Soviet authorities were advised at an early date regarding Australia's potentialities as a source of supply. They indicated, however, that details of Russia's needs would be communicated to London in order to facilitate co-ordinated action. It is hoped that there will be further shipments of Australian produce to Russia in the near future, depending on the order of urgency in which various commodities are required by the Soviet Government, and the disposition of shipping. To assist in connexion with the transport of materials to Russia, the Commonwealth Government, in co-operation with the Government of New South Wales, has arranged to make available locomotives and trucks for Iran as follows: -63 main-line locomotives; 835 wagons.

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