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Wednesday, 19 June 1946

Mr Fadden n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

1.   Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a report in the press of the 1st May in which it is stated that members of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, with Mr. Gregson as auctioneer, visited Onslow by service aircraft to conduct an advertised sale of a large freezer, but that it was found the freezer had been removed south some time previously much to the disgust of interested parties?

2.   Will the Minister have the report' ,,,vestigated and make a full statement to the House?

Mr Dedman - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer : - 1 and- 2. A representative of the Department of the Army surveyed stocks at various isolated points in the North-West and Kimberley districts of Western Australia, including Broome. Noonkanbah, Port Hedland and Onslow. During this survey the presence of the cool room at Onslow was noted and it was subsequently included in the list of surplus stocks declared to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. In view of the isolation of the' areas in question and with the' object of quitting the stocks as quickly as possible and also to the best' advantage of the local people, the Disposals Commission arranged a series of local auctions throughout the area in question and the sale of the i cool room at Onslow was included in this series of auctions. The Disposals Commission's officer, together with a licensed auctioneer, travelled by plane from place -to place conducting the auctions as they went. On arrival at Onslow they ascertained that the . cool room had been removed. It appears that, although the Army representative declared the cool room surplus, the cool room actually was the property of the Department of Air. which, not knowing that the Army had declared it surplus, removed it in the. interim to Perth In this particular case the Commonwealth Disposals Commission conducted a series of unique auction sales under particularly difficult circumstances owing to the isolation due to distances and the methods of sale necessary for the disposal of the surplus stocks.

Mr Archie Cameron n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

1.   What is the total value of stores disposed of by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to date?

2.   What is the approximate proportion of . the items disposed of in relation to the total value of items already declared surplus by the commission ?

3.   What is the total cost to date of the commission?

4.   What has been the cost incurred in transportation by the commission in connexion with all stores so far disposed of?

Mr Dedman - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answers : -

1.   The total sales, value of stores disposed of bv the Commonwealth Disposals Commission as at the 31st May. 1946, is f45.305.367.

2.   The commission is not in a position to furnish information as to the relative value, of sales as against purchase cost as in many cases no purchase cost is given to the commission by the holding departments when the goods are declared surplus. The commission in selling operates on the basis of present-date values rather than of the original cost of the equipment. Items such as clothing and food in the. majority of casus realize their full initial cost. In some cases, i.e., base metals, the; original cost might be exceeded. In other cases such as combat aircraft there is an exceedingly small if any resale value. Similarly, large Army camps, particularly those built in northern areas, realize only a fraction of their original cost. In regard to quantities sold as against declarations, the position is regarded as relatively good. In many cases the commission has sold all the stocks that have been declared surplus. It is endeavouring to quit surpluses within a period of eight to ten weeks of the declarations being made. In certain cases, such as motor vehicle spare parts, the market is not available to absorb all surplus stocks, and there must of necessity be a time lug.

3.   The total cost of administration of the commission up to date amounts to £182.336. This includes an amount of £36,356 for advertising, but does not include such items as rentals paid for as a normal departmental charge by the Department of Supply and Shipping, and does not include costs of agency departments in relation to such departments' disposals activities.

4.   The Commonwealth Disposals Commission does not itselftake possession of surplus goods and consequently does not incur cost in transportation. The policy of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission is to sell "as is and where is "and it normally does not request the holding department to move the goods from the point at which they have been declared. Surplus stocks have been successfully sold in isolated areas such as Alice Springs, Darwin and elsewhere.

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