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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister is entitled to a fair hearing, and 3 invite members of the Opposition to refrain from interjecting.

Mr DEDMAN - The Opposition does not like the truth, which is that no preparations had been -made before this Government came into office to develop a machine to administer the problem of rationing clothing by means of -coupons.

Mr Spooner - -The Government has been in office for seven and a half months and is no farther ahead.

Mr DEDMAN - That statement is incorrect. The Government has the problem well in hand and hopes within very few weeks to introduce a system of rationing by the coupon system. The only reason why the -coupon system was not introduced immediately is that the administrative machine is not ready. It is necessary that we have a very large pool to .start with, because immediately coupons are issued many people in the community will decide to .exchange their coupons for the goods to which they are entitled, and the first effect will he a tremendous rush upon the stocks of rationed articles.

Mr Fadden - The honorable gentlema.n has assisted ^effectively in exhausting the available supply.

Mr DEDMAN - If the Leader of the Opposition will be patient I shall .show how extraordinarily stupid some of his statements have been. The Government had to see that there would exist a large pool of goods when the coupon system was introduced. It is not ready to introduce that system at present, but it will be ready within a few weeks, and the action taken to restrict present sales will ensure the availability of a clothing pool. The right honorable gentleman asked why the restrictions were announced on Friday night. Many newspaper statements have been quoted by the Leader of the

Opposition, who seems to think that when I make a statement to the newspapers I am endeavouring to justify my actions. Press statements made by me are based on what I consider to be the facts and at no time do I endeavour in the press to justify any of my actions. The announcement was made on Friday night because the Government believed that the retail traders in the community needed time to compute the basis on which their sales would take place from the date on which the regulations came into operation.

Mr Harrison - Why did not the honorable gentleman consult the retail traders?

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