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Wednesday, 9 September 1942

Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- There are some matters to which I wish to refer. One of them relates to the Navy. I am sorry that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Makin) is not present. This complaint is not one for which I hold the Minister personally responsible. I know that he cannot keep his finger on all sections of his department,but I do ask him to look into the allegations made by my correspondent. I do not propose to give any names, but I am told that some of the men at Darwin, who have been there now for over two years, have had only about fourteen days leave, and even when their ships have come south as far as Brisbane, leave has notbeen arranged for them. I refer particularly to the naval ratings. If what I am told is a fact, it seems to me that somebody is rather slacking and inconsiderate in his duty towards the men in the Navy.

Mr Forde - Is the honorable member speaking in regard to naval men only ?

Mr BARNARD - Yes, because the complaint has come from them. This is one of the things for which I do not hold the Minister responsible. I do not ask that the men should be given special consideration, but Ibelieve that these matters should be decided on a basis of equity. Leave is essential to keep men fighting fit and to sustain morale. To some extent, I agree with what the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has said in regard to leave. It is important that all men should have leave, particularly thosewho have been for long periods away from their homes. It is a natural urge for men to want to go home to see their families, and that applies equally to soldiers, sailors and airmen as to civilians, particularly when they have been away from their homes for some time. When a man sees his ship leaving to undergo re-equipment in the south, and finds he is left in the air, so to speak, he feels he is not being fairly treated, particularly if he has been in the north for some considerable time. This applies particularly to men in an uncongenial climate such as Darwin. I urge the Government to look into the complaint.

Mr Rosevear - What about the men in the Army ? Half a dozen who came back recently from Darwin had been there for three years.

Mr BARNARD - If that is so the Minister for the Army ought to examine the position. Surely it should be possible to make some provision for recreational leave for men who have seen extended service. Such leave is necessary to maintain fitness. 1 suggest that a rearrangement of leave provisions should be possible to meet this complaint. I can see no reason why men who normally work on vessels which need to be brought south for repairs and renovation should not he allowed to come south on the vessels. They could be given recreational leave while the repair work is being put in hand.

Another matter to which I desire to refer relates to civilian needs. I listened with interest and approval to the excellent speech delivered in this House to-day by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) concerning war-time demands on the civil population now and in the months immediately ahead of us. But certain needs of civilian life should be provided if it is humanly possible to provide them. I have received a complaint from a firm in Launceston about the serious shortage of kitchen utensils. The letter reads -

The writer feels that it is absolutely essential that something should be done to relieve the position in relation to the supply of pots and pans for young people recently married who cannot obtain their requirements.

In a letter which this firm received recently from A. M. Simpson and Sons Limited, of Adelaide, the following paragraph appeared : -

We are considerably in arrears with orders for enamel stew pans. We cannot obtain ade.quate supplies of raw material. We have discontinued making kettles.

Metters Proprietary Limited advised this gentleman last week that its factory was fully occupied in the manufacture of military requirements and that there was no prospect of manufacturing pots and pans for civilian needs for some time to come. I assume that this is a matter which will require consideration by the Ministers of several departments, but I urge the Government to give immediate attention to the complaints. Marriages will occur in war-time as well as at other times, and some homes will be established. It is only reasonable, therefore, that a certain quantity of domestic equipment, including pots and pans, shall be made available.

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