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Thursday, 17 March 1932

Mr FRANCIS (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister in charge of War Service Homes) - hy leave- The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), and other honorable members have recently referred in thu House to the question of the issue of military clothing to those in necessitous circumstances in New South Wales. The Minister for Defence has gone very carefully into this question, and, on his behalf, I desire to state that the Commonwealth Government is entirely sympathetic with the object honorable members have in view, and is desirous of doing everything within its power to assist in the relief of distress among the unemployed. In this connexion, the Defence Department has made the following items of serviceable and part-worn military clothing available for this purpose: -


Large quantities of naval clothing have also been made available.

It was impracticable for the Defence Department to undertake the issue of this clothing to charitable organizations throughout the Commonwealth, and arrangements were accordingly made in all the States, except New South Wales, for the distribution to, be made by the State governments. As the New South Wales Government would not undertake the distribution, it was necessary to find some other mea.ns by which this clothing could be distributed throughout the State, and the previous Government arranged for the members representing New South Wales constituencies to issue the clothing to charitable organizations in their electorates.

The distribution of such surplus or part-worn military clothing as may become available from time to time is still being conducted by all State governments, except New South Wales, and, as the Defence Department is not in a position to undertake the distribution in that State, it has now been decided that all unserviceable articles available for free issue in New South Wales are to be handed to recognized charitable institutions selected by the Base Commandant in collaboration with the State Chief Secretary's Department. The Commonwen 1th Government does .not desire in any way to restrict the issue to charitable institutions in the metropolitan area, and definite, instructions on this point have been issued to the Defence authorities. The question as to what charitable organizations shall handle the future distribution of part-worn and unserviceable military clothing and camp equipment that may be made available in New South Wales, and how far the activities of the organizations selected extend to country centres, has been taken up with the New

South Wales Government by the Base Commandant.

The enormous quantities of naval and military clothing which have been supplied from Defence stocks during recent months for distribution to those in necessitous circumstances in the several States have reduced the stocks to such an extent that the quantities of serviceable clothing remaining on hand are barely sufficient for the department's needs, and the only clothing likely to be available in the future will be part-worn. The quantities of these articles issued from time to time as they become available will probably be small.

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