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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (Minister for the Army) . -in reply - The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has again asked that members of the Australian Imperial Force who did not leave Australia be allowed to retain their colour patches. This matter has also been mentioned by other honorable members. I said last week that I would have a conference with General Blamey, Commander-in-Chiefof the Allied Land Forces, South-west Pacific area, during the week-end. I did so, and I discussed the matter with him furtherin Canberra this afternoon.I shall be in a position to-morrow at question-time to make a statement covering the points raised by the honorable member.

We all realize how sincere is the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) in his desire to help the coal-miners, but he was wrong in saying that the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) attacked themthis afternoon. As a matter of fact, the position is just the reverse. The Prime Minister, in a well-reasoned and impartial statement, set out the case very clearly from the point of view of the Government. In the declaration which hemade he had the backing of his Cabinet.

Mr George Lawson - And ofthe majority of the miners, too.

Mr FORDE - Yes, I believe that an overwhelming majority of the miners support him. The remarks of the honorable member for Hunter and of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) will be brought to the notice of the Prime Minister.

The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) . made out a very good case for three fishermen, two of whom are already in camp, while the third is due to go into camp on the 23rd of this month. I was greatly impressed by what the honorable member said regarding the importance of the fishing industry, particularly now when we have so many visitors in the country, and man-power is so short. As time goes on, it will become increasingly difficult to provide food for members of the fighting services and for the civil population. To-morrow morning I shall go into the cases of the two men already in camp, and of the other man who is to be called up on the 23rd of this month. I hope to be able to give the honorable member a favorable reply, if not in regard to all three of the men, at least in regard to one or two of them. The fishing industry is not included in the list of essential primary industries released recently by the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward).

Mr Paterson - The Minister will agree that it should have been.

Mr FORDE - On the very strong case made out by the honorable member for Gippsland, I admit, if I had to make a decision to-night, I should be obliged to agree that the fishing industry should be included in the list of essential primary industries. However, I shall discuss the matter with my colleagues to-morrow morning.

The representations of the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) regarding the rationing of power kerosene contain considerable merit and I shall discuss them with the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley). To certain features that affect the Department of the Army I shall give full consideration, in consultation with my military advisers.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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