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Friday, 6 March 1942
Page: 301

Mr GUY (Wilmot) .- I rarely rise to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House, but the opportunities of honorable members in these days to address themselves in Parliament to various public issues are limited, liven at question time it is not possible, within the period available, to submit all the questions on which we desire to elicit information. Consequently, we must take such other opportunities as the Standing Orders afford to obtain the information we desire. At questiontime to-day, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) elegantly put it. " the gate was shut too soon ".

I desire to obtain some information :i boUt certain ill-conceived, ill-advised and ill-considered regulations which the Government has issued. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) referred to certain regulations which are having the effect of enforcing the closing nf many small businesses. This is going on not only in city areas, but also in country districts throughout Australia. Why is this so? Is it because the Government desires to save lighting? That cannot be the reason, for under the existing daylight-saving provision very little electricity is used for lighting purposes. Is it because of a desire to conserve man-power? That cannot be the reason either, because many of these small businesses are conducted by married couples above military age. Is it because of a desire to save power and coal? In Tasmania, at any rate, the shops could remain open fill night without the saving of a single ounce of coal, for the hydro-electric scheme of Tasmania does not require coal. I ask the Government to cause an investigation to be made into the justification for the particular regulations to which I am referring.

I direct attention, now, to a recent statement by thu Prime Minister in deprecation of what he described as " bets and beer ". Steps have been taken to restrict the broadcasting of race descriptions. I shall not at the moment discuss whether racing is good or bad in itself. I wish to emphasize that if the Government were sincere in this matter, and desired to take effective action, it should have gone further than it has gone. The interstate broadcasting of race descriptions is simply a farce. Race broadcasts are permitted intra-state but not interstate. All that that means is that a person in Victoria who 'wishes to hear race broadcasts in Sydney disregards the State relay stations and tunes in to the principal national station in New South Wales. Persons in New South Wales who wish to listen to Melbourne broadcasts merely tune in to 3LO and so get all the results they desire from Flemington. For this reason I submit that the Government's plan to restrict racing by the prohibition of interstate broadcasts has failed miserably.

Mr Frost - Does the honorable gentleman think that all racing broadcasts should be prohibited?

Mr GUY - I definitely do. In these serious times such action would be fully warranted. My complaint at the moment is that the Government is only playing with the thing. Its policy is a joke.

During question time I desired to elicit some information from the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) concerning what are coming to be known as ministerial batmen. 1 am almost induced to ask any honorable gentleman opposite who is without a job to hold up his hand as practically all of them, have been given some governmental appointments. I desire to know whether the AttorneyGeneral proposes to appoint the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) to assist him in certain of his work? If so, what extra remuneration will be paid to those honorable gentlemen, and what duties will they perform? Is it not a fact that all the work that they could do could be done by the Crown Solicitor and the officers of the Crown Law Department in the various States?

Another matter to which I desired to direct more attention during question time, hut was unable to do so in the time available, is of paramount importance. We must surely all recognize that it is of extreme consequence that" we keep all ships moving in and out of our various ports "as fast as possible. Because of the lack of shipping it is extremely necessary that we move heaven and earth to obtain the utmost service possible from the ships that are available. Yet numerous shipping delays are occurring. I do not blame the Government for what is happening, but I ask the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully), who is in charge of shipping, to make an investigation to ascertain whether more effective steps cannot be taken to expedite the handling of cargo at various ports, for this would enable the ships to make more frequent voyages. I have in mind a shipping company which, not long ago, was running one trip a week on a certain route with its available vessels, but delays have become so frequent that the period between trips has extended from ten to twelve days. This means that we are only getting about 50 per cent, of the service that we ought to be getting from these ships. I asked one question of the Prime Minister on this subject to-day, but in the time available was able to make only a limited submission to him. The honorable gentleman said that he would give immediate consideration to my question and I am sure that he will do so. The fact is that there is a bottle-neck at the port of Melbourne. Only half the quantity of labour is available to handle the shipping economically and expeditiously. In justification of that statement I cite the following specific instances which occurred between the 28th February and the 4th March of this year. Insufficient, labour was available to work the Woniora and she had to leave port having short shipped approximately 25 per cent, of her outward cargo. That is a very serious state of affairs in present circumstances. Only one gang was available to work the Lutana although four gangs would have been necessary to avoid delay. The Lanena had to be worked with one gang instead of four although she was loaded with urgently needed defence requirements. The Wannon could get only two gangs although four were needed. The Wareatea required three gangs for proper working but could not set even one. The Laranah could not obtain any labour, although she could have employed four gangs. The Naracoopa, which arrived last Wednesday with perishable goods and live-stock on board, was unable to obtain labour for unloading. The boat carried a considerable quantity of cheese and boxed butter. The weather was extremely hot, reaching as high as 105 degrees in the shade while the vessel was in port. The butter in the boxes became oily and ran all over the decks. A great deal of it was absolutely wasted and the remainder was seriously deteriorated in quality. I feel sure that it is only necessary to mention these matters to the Minister for Commerce to induce him to have a thorough inquiry made into the subject. If an insufficient number of the .members of the Waterside Workers Federation be available to work ships as they come into port, other men should be given an opportunity to accept employment.

Mr Scully - From where are the men to be obtained?

Mr MARWICK (SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - We are told that 150 men are idle in the coal-fields area.

Mr GUY - Men could have been obtained at Melbourne. Employees in warehouses which required the goods on the ships were not allowed to work on the ships or to handle the cargo on the wharfs.

Mr Holloway - I do not think that that statement can be correct, if thu circumstances are as outlined by the honorable member.

Mr GUY - -The plain fact is that only about half the labour required is available at Melbourne to enable the ships to be handled expeditiously. I urge the Government to give careful consideration to these submissions with a view to the taking of proper steps to rectify the position.

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