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Tuesday, 6 December 1938

Mr McCall (MARTIN, NEW SOUTH WALES) l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Has he been informed that 200 employees and 40 unionists at Mort's Dock have received notices of dismissal owing to the stagnation of the ship-building industry?

2.   In view of the fact that Sir Walter Carpenter, head of an Australian shipping line, is about to leave for England for the purpose of purchasing new vessels, and in view of the parlous condition of the Australian shipbuilding trade, will the Government, before the session ends, expedite the presentation to Parliament of the report made by the ex -Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) on the industry ?

3.   What reply has the Government to make to the statements made by Sir Walter Carpenter that his shipping company, which is the only Australian shipping company engaged in foreign shipping, has been running for four years without receiving £1 worth of Government cargo, whileother non-Australian companies have been getting Government cargo, including munitions, guns and aeroplanes for defence ?

4.   Is it a fact that some foreign ships have brought defence materials to Australia?

5.   Is preference given to Australian-owned organizations. If so, why has this company been overlooked?

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

1.   No.

2.   The Government hopes to be in a position to announce its decision in this matter at an early date, if possible before the present parliamentary sittings terminate.

3.   In 1930, the Australian Industries Preservation Act was amended specially to enable agreements to be made between shippers of goods from Australia, and shipowners, and approved by the Australian Overseas Transport Association whereby, in consideration of periodical sailings to be provided by the shipowners, and the carriage of goods of the shippersat agreed rates, the shippers agree to ship exclusively by the shipowners. Such exclusive agreements have been made, and similar agree mentis have been made by the shipowners with shippers from the United Kingdom and Europe to Australia. The Commonwealth Government, as a shipper, is party to an agreement for shipment of goods to Australia.

The Commonwealth Government, apart from its responsibility under the agreement as a shipper, has a general responsibility to ensure adequate and efficient shipping connexion between the United Kingdom and Europe on the one hand and Australia on the other. The Government relies on the conference lines to supply this service and their vessels make between 300 and 400 sailings annually to Australia front various United Kingdom ports as part of their regular service. The Carpenter Line on the other hand makes about six sailings annually from United Kingdom ports to Australia, and the conditions associated with the running of these vessels (e.g. itineraries, method of loading, &c.) are said to be unsuitable for the regular shipment of cargoes. It is understood that the capital of the Carpenter Line is subscribed substantially in Australia but that the ships are registered outside Australia and that the crews are not on Australianarticles.

The Oversea Shipping Representatives Association which was recently approached in the matter has advised that Carpenters have been given a number of concessions which have proved embarrassing to conference lines in dealing with other merchants. The association added that these concessions were granted as the result of agreements and conversations between conference lines and Carpenter, and that these agreements still have some time to run.

Notwithstanding the above every effort has been made by the Commonwealth Government to secure back loading from the United Kingdom compatible with the conditions under which the vessels are running. 4.It is the practice for Commonwealth defence supplies from the United Kingdom to be shipped in British-owned vessels. Occasionally, odd shipments of small dimensions from the continent or the United States of America may be brought in foreign ships; but these are isolated cases only and the amount of freight would be negligible.

5.   See answer to 3.

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