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Tuesday, 22 November 1938

Dr Maloney (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

What is the weight of iron in each bomb used in warfare?

Mr Street - Steel is mainly used in the construction of bombs. The weight of the bomb casing varies with the size and type of bomb. In ordinary types, the proportion of the case weight to the total bomb weight averages 70 per cent., whilst in special types it varies from 40 to SO per cent. For example, in an ordinary bomb of 500 pounds the case would weigh about 300 pounds.

Grasshopper Plague.

Mr Casey y. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked me the following question, without notice: -

What investigations, if any, are being carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in order to cope with the grasshopper plague ?

I promised the honorable member that I would furnish him with detailed information in. this regard. The position is that swarms of grasshoppers have occurred intermittently for many years in Australia, but by 1934 they became so serious that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was asked to appoint a research worker to give the problem his undivided attention. Up to that time, although a good deal of miscellaneous information had been obtained, there had been no precise definition of the problem,, and this was consequently the first work to be undertaken.

The species concerned in outbreaks were examined, and it was found that nearly all the damage was caused by two species, Ch.ortoicetes terminifera in eastern Australia, and Austroicetes cruciata in South Australia and Western Australia. Both these species swarm, and show characteristic swarming phase changes in form and colour, just as do the plague locusts and grasshoppers of the old world; but otherwise their behaviour is quite dissimilar, and actually they present two entirely distinct scientific and practical problems.

Chortoicetes terminiferaproved to be a true locust, in that, when the swarms are formed in particular areas, mass migration occurs. over a wide stretch of country. The main work on this species has been to define the " outbreak centres ", where the swarms originate. This has been done, both geographically and climatically, and some knowledge has also been obtained of the conditions influencing swarming, the lines of migration of swarms, and the barriers to migration that exist in eastern Australia. These observations have practical significance in two directions. They make it possible to concentrate control measures more efficiently than could be done in the past, and they open up the possibility that at least some of the areas may be rendered unsuitable as outbreak centres by altering the vegetation growing on them.

As part of the investigation, an infor- mation service has been developed in collaboration with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture. Observations made all over New South Wales are sent regularly to Canberra, so that the development and spread of swarms can be traced throughout the season. This service has not only been valuable from the investigational point of view, but it has provided useful early information about incipient outbreaks.

Austrioiceles cruciatawas found to differ from Chortoicetes terminifera in having only one generation a year instead of three, and in the fact that its swarms do not migrate any great distance- from their breeding grounds, which, however, may cover considerable tracts of country.

Additional work carried out has included a study of the enemies of grasshoppers, chief of which are certain parasitic wasps and flies. It appears probable that some of these may multiply sufficiently rapidly to help in- bringing an outbreak to an end. No evidence has been obtained to suggest that birds or other large natural enemies play any significant part in influencing the course of an outbreak.

Once the problem had been clarified, it was possible to divide the work efficiently between the various organizations concerned, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research concentrating its attention on a study of Chortoicetesterminifera, the Waite Institute, South Australia, concentrating on Austrioicetescruciata, and the State Departments of Agriculture being responsible for the study and application- of direct control measures. These arrangements were confirmed at the Australian Grasshopper Conference, held in Melbourne in July last. All States and the Commonwealth were represented, and the following are the chief recommendations of the conference, which directly concern the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and which have been adopted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as a plan of future work: -

1.   That the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should act as a clearing house for the collection and dissemination of information in Australia.

2.   That a more detailed study should be made of the outbreak centres, special attention being paid to the physical and biological characteristics of the actual breeding grounds and feeding grounds within the centres.

3.   That the study of the conditions influencing swarming and migration should be continued.

4.   'J hat the system of information service* should be extended to other parts of Australia,

5.   '1hat the Council for Scientific and Indus- trial Research act as a centre for the collection and correlation of information about parasites and other natural enemies of grasshoppers.

National Insurance.

Mr Casey y. - On Thursday, the 17th November, I promised the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) a considered reply to the following question : -

If a person is employed on domestic or other work for one day a week, or part of a day each week, regularly every week, will that person be liable to contribute to the insurance scheme?

The National Insurance Commission proposes to exempt as subsidiary those classes of employment which ordinarily do not constitute a principal means of livelihood. A person employed on domestic work one day each week, or part of a day each week, regularly every week, will be exempt unless this work is one of a number of employments, in which case it will be insurable and contributions will be payable. If the work is done for different employers from time to time and without regularity for any particular one of them, it will be exempt as casual employment.

My. Casey. - On Thursday, the 17th November, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) asked me the following question: -

I have received a letter from a constituent who cleans a doctor's plate every morning in the week, and for this service, which she has been performing for five years, she receives ls.6d. a week. Will this person come under the provisions of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act?

On the information given, the National Insurance Commission advises me that unless the work is one of a number of employments occupying more than six hours a week or unless it constitutes a principal means of livelihood, as is unlikely in this case, it will be exempt as subsidiary employment.

Mr Casey - On Thursday, the 17th November, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to a question he had previously asked me concerning share-farmers and farmers' sons and daughters under national insurance, and I now refer the honorable member to my reply to his previous question on page 994 of Hansard. At the moment the decision hinges upon the question as to whether or not these people are employed under a contract of service. A sharefarmer himself, as a rule, is not an employee. He may be a contractor and therefore not insurable. So far as sons and daughters of farmers are concerned, the position may be stated, shortly, that no sons or daughters will be insurable, and no contributions will be payable by and in respect of them, unless they are in fact working for wages or salary as employees.

Mr Lyons s. - On the 18th November, the honorable the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) asked me, without notice, whether there was any truth in the rumour that the Government had received representations for the subsidizing of friendly societies as an alternative to the national health and pensions insurance scheme.

From inquiries I have made I can only surmise that what the honorable gentleman heard refers to is the proposal of the Government to subsidize certain associa tions in respect of medical benefit to be provided for the wives and children of insured persons.

Export of Pig Iron.

Mr Lyons s. - On the 18 th November, the honorable the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) asked me a question, without notice, as to what representations had been made for permission to export pig iron from Australia.

I now desire to inform the honorable gentleman that no representations of this kind have been made to the Government. There is at present no restriction upon the export of pig iron, but the whole position is, however, being kept constantly under review, and if it appears at any time that the exportation of this commodity is likely to increase to such an extent as detrimentally to affect Australian industry and development, the question of restriction of export will receive immediate consideration.

Iron Ore Resources.

Mr Lyons s. - On the 18th November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had at any time within the last two years pointed out to the Government the advisability of making inquiries regarding a possible shortage of iron ore in Australia.

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that this company has not, at any time, asked the Government to make inquiries regarding a possible shortage of iron ore in Australia.

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