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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr Bird d asked the Minister for Defence Production, upon notice -

1.   Are dismissals taking place in the aircraft maintenance branch of his department at Northcote, Victoria?

2.   If so, what is the number of dismissals to take place there?

3.   Will there be any similar reduction of staff in branches of the department operating in Botany, New South Wales, and Northfield, South Australia?

4.   In view of his previous statement that nofurther dismissals were contemplated, will he reexamine the question of any further reduction of staff?

Mr Beale - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. Further dismissals of employees in the aircraft maintenance branch at Northcote, Botany and Northfield are not contemplated in the immediate future. There could be minor staff adjustments at any one or more of those locations resulting from the review of administrative and accounting procedures which is currently in hand under Public Service Board' direction. The level of employment generally at those locations in the longer term will depend on the scale of orders from the service departments when their programmes for 1957-58 have been decided.

Mr E JAMES HARRISON (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) on asked the Minister for Defence Production, upon notice - 1.. Has any firm decision been arrived at regarding future aircraft production in Australia?

2.   What, is the likely future of production by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Lidcombe?

Mr Beale - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   As announced early in April, the Government has accepted the principle that an Australian aircraft manufacturing industry should be maintained and has decided that any replacement new fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force should be manufactured in Australia.

2.   There is a programme of aircraft work which will ensure, continued activity at the Lidcombe factory for the immediate future. The long-term role of this factory is under active consideration.

Royal Australian Air Force Hangar at Richmond.

Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -

1.   Did his department let a contract to Electric Power Transmission Proprietary Limited to design, supply, fabricate and erect a steel hangar at Richmond Royal Australian Air Force Station?

2.   If so, when was the contract let?

3.   Were tenders called in Australia or overseas before the contract was let; if not, why not?

4.   Was. the. steel imported; if so, why?

5.   Have certain stresses and deflections token place in some steel members in the hangar?

6.   Are some steel members in the hangar being temporarily supported and having strengthening members inserted in them?

7.   What was the completion date under the contract?

8.   When is it expected that the hangar will be completed?

9.   Did Electric Power Transmission Proprietary Limited design, fabricate or erect the steel Qantas hangar which has collapsed at Kingsford-Smith Aerodrome?

Mr Fairhall - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes.

2.   4th October, 1955.

3.   Public tenders were not called because of the urgency of the requirement. Selected firms were invited to tender.

4.   The steel was imported. The firm (Electric Power Transmission Proprietary Limited) fabricates its steelwork in Milan, Italy, and it, therefore, had access to steel stocks which were not freely available from Australian sources.

5.   In all steel-framed buildings steelwork is stressed and deflects.

6.   The hangar for which the suppliers are fully responsible has been subject to continuous checking in respect of design and workmanship and necessary amendments made. I informed the honorable member when answering his question submitted without notice that " up to the present I have had no report that there was anything amiss in the construction ". I have now had the opportunity of obtaining a report which indicates that noticeable deflection occurred during the erection of the truss over the hangar doorway. Additional members were fitted while the truss was temporarily supported. All cost of adjustments was borne by the contractors.

7.   The completion date for the steel frame and the floors was 29th March, 1956. No date was fixed for completion of annexes, because details of the requirements were not sufficiently clear.

8.   November, 1957.

9.   The Qantas hangar project was not undertaken by my department and I am not in possession of details of the contractual arrangements.

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