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Friday, 26 August 1921

Senator PEARCE - The answers are -

1.   No.

2.   The object at present in view is to reduce the factory strength to about GOO with the least possible delay. (See also reply to 7)

3.   Married men receive preference for intention over single men, but as the factory work is divided over several sections and the reduction of staff must proceed in a manner that does not upset the balance of the factory and so cripple production, the dismissal of a proportion of married men is unavoidable.

4.   Yes.

5.   Approximately¬£ 200,000.

6.   Certain adjustments rendered necessary by increases in wages granted under recent awards having retrospective application are still outstanding, and it is not known yet what effect these retrospective payments will ' have on last year's business. In any case any profit which may be shown as the result of rifles manufactured at the factory will be. merely the difference between the cost at which the rifles have been charged out to the Department and the actual cost of production.

7.   The proposal of the employees for all employees to lose one day's work and pay per week with a view to obviating the necessity for dismissals has to be considered in relation to the output of rifles and related articles required for defence purposes. The reserve of rifles considered by the military advisers to the Government as necessary for defence purposes is within measurable distance of being accumulated, and it follows that once the reserve is established the normal annual requirements of new rifles will not be large unless some unforeseen circumstances arise. In face of these facts a policy for the future conduct of the factory which will reduce ultimately the factory establishment to a nucleus basis is in view. If the present situation which demands limitation of output and expenditure at the Small Arms Factory were temporary only, and there was a likelihood at the end of a short period of the factory being required to speed up and maintain a considerable output of rifles, the case would be different, but having in view the future position as far as it can be seen at the present moment, it is considered that no good purpose would be served by the adoption of a scheme which merely delays a short time the reduction which must inevitably be made.

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