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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Dr EVATT (Barton) (Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs) - - by leave - Cabinet decided last week that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) should visit Darwin in order to make a firsthand examination of the problems involved in speeding up the activities relating to the handling of cargoes in that port. The importance of this matter under present conditions hardly needs emphasizing. Owing to an unusual combination of circumstances, somewhat unusual expedients may have to be devised to meet the urgent requirements of the moment. For this reason the Minister for Labour and National Service has been given wide powers, not only to investigate the whole problem, but also to take immediate action to bring the cargo-handling facilities at the port up to the peak of efficiency. I have no doubt that he will carry this out with his accustomed vigour.

Word has now been received from my colleague that he will be unable to reach Canberra in time for the important industrial conference which was tentatively arranged for the 22nd December. As he is to take the chair at this conference, it has been postponed to Saturday, the 27th December. If necessary, the conference will run on over Sunday. The conference, which will be attended by a number of Cabinet Ministers, Commonwealth Arbitration Court judges, conciliation commissioners and representatives of employers and employees, has been called to consider means of achieving and maintaining maximum production in all branches of industry.

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