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Tuesday, 19 May 1942
Page: 1386

Mr Wilson (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -

1.   Has he seen the following statements appearing in the New Zealand FarmerWeekly - (a) No farmer could make a better contribution to the war effort than by growing wheat; (6) sufficient petrol and oil fuel will be made available to all wheat-growers both for harvest and for preparing the land and sowing the new crop; (c) labour will be made available for both the above purposes; and (d) the Dominion requires 300,000 acres of wheat annually. Not once since 1933 has such an area been sown. In that year 302,000 acres were cropped, and, aided by an exceptionally good yield of 36½ bushels an acre, more than 11,000,000 bushels were garnered?

2.   In view of this position in a sister dominion, would it be advisable, in the interests of the disposal of surplus Australian wheat stocks, that immediate negotiations should be begun for some reciprocal trade arrangement to meet the New Zealand requirements of wheat in part, as this should prove advantageous to both countries under the present stress of war conditions?

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

1.   Yes.

2.   The Commonwealth Government has already conferred with the Government of New Zealand regarding the supply of wheat from Australia, and satisfactory arrangements have been concluded. The object of the present New Zealand programme is to make New Zealand as self-supporting as possible in this primary commodity.

Holiday Pay.

Mr Calwell l asked the Minister for

Labour and National Service, upon notice- -

1.   What action has been taken to ensure that members of the Fibrous Plasterers' Union of Victoria are paid the wages they are entitled to for work done on Easter Monday and Labour Day?

2.   Is it a fact that the employers in these cases have refused to pay the wages due?

3.   Will he ensure that machinery will be devised to protect the wages and conditions of the members of this union and other unions against pinpricking methods of employers?

Mr Ward - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows : -

1.   Owing to the refusal of the employers to observe the regulations in regard to the payment of fibrous plasterers employed on Easter Monday and Labour Day, action was taken by my department to have the matter placed in the hands of the Deputy Crown Solicitor, Melbourne, with instructions to proceed against the firms concerned for a breach of the regulations.

2.   Yes; but all except two of the employers have now paid the wages due.

3.   Yes. Prosecutions will be lodged in all cases where employers attempt to defeat the purposes of the National Security Regulations.

Coral Sea Naval Engagements: News Censorship.

Mr Forde e. - On the 14th May, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked a question, without notice, in regard to the publication by Sir Keith Murdoch in the Melbourne Herald and other newspapers of an article in which it was alleged that certain facts had been revealed relating to the battle of the Coral Sea, but which war correspondents had, by censorship instruction, been precluded from using.

A report has now been received from the State Censor in Victoria to the effect that the article by Sir Keith Murdoch to which objection was taken, was passed by censorship after certain deletions were made in consultation with allied headquarters. Similar security deletions had been made by military censors from war correspondents' despatches. When breaches of the censorship regulations have occurred action has been taken to prevent a recurrence.

Australian Army: Period of Leave.

Mr Forde e. - On the 15th May, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) asked whether members of the Australian Imperial Force recently returned from the Middle East had been given seven days' leave, while personnel from Darwin and other northern stations were given one month's leave.

I now inform the honorable member that the statement that personnel who have been serving at Darwin were to be granted leave of one month's duration is the result of a press announcement which emanated from unofficial sources. However, action is at present being taken to devise a system of relief, compatible with the situation, in regard to these personnel, as well as other troops serving in isolated or tropical localities. Instances have occurred of personnel evacuated from islands adjacent to Australia being granted one month's leave on return to Australia. This was done on the recommendation of the medical authorities in order to assist such members to regain their health in a domestic environment, in cases where the member's medical condition permitted such a course to be taken.

Impressment of Rifles.

Mr Forde e. - On the 15th May the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) asked whether .22 repeating rifles recently impressed were being held unused, and if so, when they would be returned to their owners?

I now inform the honorable member that it is not proposed to return any of the impressed rifles to their owners.. Rifles not in military use are being either reconditioned or broken up for replacement parts.

Werribee Beef.

Mr Forde e. - On the 15th May, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked me, without notice -

1.   What butchers supply beef to the military camps at Royal Park, Darley and Seymour?

2.   Has any of the beef supplied to those camps during the last three weeks come from the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works farm at Werribee?

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

1.   Royal Park and Seymour camps are supplied with meat by F. Watkins Proprietary Limited. Darley camp is supplied by W. Angliss Proprietary Limited.

2.   No.

Army Canteen Prices.

Mr Forde e. - On the 8th May, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) referred to the prices charged for certain articles to Army canteens which he stated were in excess of those charged by city stores, and asked that the service men who patronize the canteens be charged the lowest prices for goods, thus enabling them to obtain the full benefit of this service.

I now inform the honorable member that the prices charged by canteen services throughout Australia should in no instance be higher than those charged by retail stores, and in the great majority of cases they are lower. If the honorable member will indicate where this is not the case, the matter will be immediately investigated.

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