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Wednesday, 23 November 1938

Mr Drakeford d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

1.   In view of the fact that the Premiers' Conference held in Adelaide in August. 1936, decided that a. further inquiry into the defence aspects of a uniform railway gauge should be made by a competent body, will hesay whether this inquiry or any departmental investigation has been made since that date?

2.   If so, when was it held?

3.   Did the inquiry disclose that concentration of troops for resisting invasion could be accomplished much more rapidly under uniform gauge conditions?

4.   If the inquiry has not been made, when is it intended to make it?

Mr Street - A reply will be furnished to the honorable member as early as possible.

Manufacture of Munitions.

Mr Street t. - On the18th November, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the following question, without notice: -

Is it a fact that machinery similar to machinery that islyingidle at Lithgow has been installed in the annexes to private establishments for the manufacture of munitions? Is the Minister for Defence prepared to give on undertaking that in future no machinery will be installed in those annexes in duplication of idle machinery in the Government's own munitions works, and that no orders for munitions will be given to private companies until the whole of the machinery at the Government's factories is in use?

I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that some machines of the type installed at the Small Arms Factory are also being installed at armament annexes, but for different manufacturing purposes. A certain number are idle at present at the Small Arms Factory, but they are required as a reserve for rifle and machine gun manufacture in time of war.

A similar position exists in Victoria where machines with suitable tools and gaugesare installed at the Government ammunition and ordnance factories, and the. same class of machines is being installed at armament annexes. Each group has its particular function in the munitions production programme, and the programme could not be fulfilled if the machines in one locality were diverted to purposes outside those for which the accompanying tools and gauges have been designed.

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