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Thursday, 20 November 1941

Mr MAKIN -On the18th November the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked me, without notice, whether it was a fact that the previous Government had approved of the purchase by Mr. Essington Lewis of a drop hammer at an estimated cost of £100,000, but that to date it had cost over £300,000; whether the hammer was purchased on behalf of

The Australian Aluminium Company Limited, and what arrangements had been made to lease or lend the hammer to the company. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the drop hammer was purchased urgently in America under the Director-General's powers at, a time when delay would have meant the loss of the equipment. This action was taken on representation from the Aircraft Production Commission. The original cost was £100,000, but operating plant, forging and equipment and installations have increased the cost to £350,000. The equipment was essential for the production of aircraft propellers in Australia. It was purchased by the Commonwealth and remains its property. It has been installed in an annexe to the Aluminium Company's works at Granville, New South Wales, and is producing propeller blades. The annexe is under the control of the Department of Aircraft Production, which is at present negotiating regarding the fee to be paid for the technical and other services of the company. The arrangements made are for the period of the war, during which land, buildings and plant will remain the property of the Commonwealth. It is proposed to review the position at a later stage, and the plant may be adapted for large steel drop forgings, aswell as for aluminium.

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