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$400,000 blankets order included fire damaged woollen mills

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Statement by the Minister for Supply (Hon. Allen Fairhall)

An Army order for 160,000 blankets at a cost of more than £400,000 has been divided between four woollen mills, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Allen Fairhall) said tonight.

He said that the four mills, whose tenders had been accepted, were

. Rex Weaving and Spinning Mills Pty.Ltd., North Lidcombe, N.8.W.

. . Lithgow Woollen Mills Ltd., Lithgow, N.S.W..

. Target Woollen Mills, Rosebery, N.S.W..

. The Western Australian Worsted and Woollen Mills Ltd., Albany, W.A..

Mr. Fairhall.said that these mills had been the four lowest tenderers.

Each would receive a contract for the supply of <0,000 blankets. The total cost of the order would be £403,487/10/-. :

' Mr. Fairhall said that Lithgow Woollen Mills Ltd. were confident that they would be able to complete their section of the order within the stipulated time despite a disastrous fire which swept through the mills last Friday night and destroyed the carding, blending and spinning

sections. Machinery worth more than £150,000 had been destroyed and fifty employees displaced pending rebuilding and replacement of plant and equipment.

Mr. Fairhall said, "the Department of Supply, which is the biggest employer of labour in the Lithgow area - through its Small Arms Factory - has been able to avoid unemployment of the fifty woollen mill workers.

1 1 By a rearrangement of the Department of Supply's production schedule, the Small Arms Factory has been able to place temporarily ail fifty. !

• " Positions have been found for them at the Factory and they will be retained up to six months until they can return to their jobs in the woollen mills. . ■

" It has given great satisfaction to the Government that the Department of Supply has been able to take this action to help private industry in the district and to ensure continuation of jobs for ;fifty people, many of whom have families depending upon their earnings. "

Mr. Fairhall said that the combined unions of the Small Aims Factory had agreed to the Management's action in providing temporary employment for the woollen mill's workers.

" By this means, the displaced employees, with their acquired skills and knowledge, may be retained for the local industry, and more particularly the possibility of temporary unemployment may be avoided," he said.

CANBERRA. August 29, 1963