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Wednesday, 2 September 1942

Senator FRASER - The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers: -

1.   It is not a fact that a circular has been issued to all flux mill managers. It is true, however, that Tasmanian managers received directions from the mill inspector of that State to have certain straw deseeded by ordinary thresher. This action was taken in view of the large quantities of straw under 21 inches in length purchased in Tasmania, on a seed basis the cost of deseeding by ordinary thresher being approximately 10s. a ton as against £1 5s. a ton for mill deseeding.

2.   A copy of the directions issued by the mill inspector is being laid on the table of the Senate.

3.   The straw is too short to be treated by standard scutching machine, as it is suitable only for the production of tow. It is intended after retting to process it with a special tow scutcher, which has recently been developed by the Flax Production Committee, and which has successfully produced tow within grades established by the British Government.

Following is a copy of the directions given by the mill inspector, referred to above : -

Approvalhas been given to have all " D " group straw (under 21 inches in length) threshed by thresher drum. It will be advisable for you to obtain quotes from contractors in your district onthe following basis: -

(   1 ) Hourly rate for plant and enginedriver and rate an hour for each man;

(2)   Hourly rate for plant and enginedriver alone, mill to supply the men.

Generally kerosene or crude oil tractor plants are cheaper, and less risky as far as fire is concerned, and it saves the manager having to supply wood and water for a steam plant.

Straw thus threshed would, of course, be spread by forks, it being too costly to spread by hand, but it would not be advisable to spread it at this time of the year as great difficulty would be experienced in getting it dry. Owing to it being loose and not suitable for gaiting it would be better to leave the spreading until springtime.

For your guidance, threshing last year was done for 12s.6d. an hour for the plant and engine-driver with1s. 8d. an hour for each man, and about eight or nine men were engaged. Any quotes for this amount should be submitted before arrangements are completed. One plant has been engaged already on this basis this year.

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