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Friday, 5 April 1946

Mr Archie Cameron n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

Does the Government propose to dispose of the flax mills now operating to private people?

Mr Dedman - The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following answer: -

Under the arrangements made by the Commonwealth with the States through the Agricultural Council at its meeting held in Sydney on the8th February, 1946, the Common wealth agreed to continue the direction and control of flax production in Australia for a further period of two years on the basis of a 30,000- acre programme for the 1946 and 1947 sowings, as against a60,000-acre programme for the preceding five years, during which substantial quantities of fibre were exported to Britain to help her meet her urgent war demand for this commodity. The 30;060 acres was assessed as the area necessary to meet Australian requirements, plus a small margin for export. These arrangements were made with the object of determining whether or not. the industry could be placed on an economic basis under peace-time conditions, and the Commonwealth undertook to have research work intensified during the two-year period. The allocation of the acreage for this year's sowing was approved by the Agricultural Council and the sixteen mills required to process the straw from the 30,000 acres will be retained and operated by the Commonwealth. This will mean that these mills will continue in operation until about the 31st December, 1948, before which date the position will be reviewed by the Commonwealth and State Governments concerned. The nine mills in the areas in which the sowing of flax will be discontinued under the plan, will be closed as soon as the stocks of straw on hand at those mills from the 1945 and previous crops have been processed. These surplus mills will then be disposed of to the best advantage by public tender or as otherwise determined by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. In addition, eight other mills situated in districts in which flaxgrowing was discontinued towards the end of the war with Germany, have already been closed and these either have been, or are being, disposed of, through the Disposals Commission.

Shipping: Overseas Organizations.

Mr Chifley y. - Yesterday, the member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked the following questions: -

I nsk the Prime Minister whether it is correct that a shipping company recently approached the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association for admission to thi shipping conference and that its application was refused? If so, will the Prims Minister state the name of the company and whether it is Australian-controlled? In view of the Government's close liaison with thu overseas shipping combine will he take steps tu see that the company to which I refer is admitted immediately to the shipping conference?

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

I understand that the shipping company which approached the Overseas Shipping Group in London for admission to the AustraliaUnited Kingdom Shipping Conference was Messrs. W. K. Carpenter and Company Limited. This is an Australian company, but, so far as is known, most if not all of its -vessels are registered outside the Commonwealth. The United Kingdom-Australia Conference is a private organization in which there is no government representation and in whose deliberations the Commonwealth Government has no direct say. The arrangement for companies desiring to enter the conference are therefore private matters between such companies and the association and the Commonwealth Government is unable to intervene in such arrangements.

Production : Report nv New Zealand Economist.

Mr BERNARD CORSER (WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Has he received from the Now Zealand Government a report by Mr. E. V. Walsh, an economist of that Government, in which it is stated that it was not Labour's responsibility to work for- full production, that, shorter hours would mean greater shortages nf essential goods and that workers would be idle when they should be producing things which they needed?

2.   In view of the application to Australia nf these nml other comments reported lo have been made by Mr. Walsh, will he secure copies nf the report for the information of honorable members and the public?

3.   Will be inform the House nf the Government's intentions regarding a nation-wide drive for increased production such us has been launched in Great Britain?

Mr Chifley y - The answers lo the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   I have ascertained that n copy of the report mentioned by the' honorable member has been received in Canberra

2.   Consideration will be given to this request when the report has been examined.

3.   The Government is- taking all steps possible to ensure maximum production.

Motor Tyres and Tubes: Prosecution koh Possession.

Mr Fadden asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -

1.   ls he now in a position to supply the muller information requested in question No. i ou Notice-paper No. 89, dated ">th October, 1045, relating to the Hillman Tobacco Company ?

2.   Were any government tyres and tubes confiscated as u result of legal proceedings in the above matter; if so, bow many? :t. ls any further - action contemplated by the Government against any person or company r

4.   Will he lay on the ' tabic of the House the flic in connexion with this matter?

Dr Evatt (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Attorney-General) t. - I was absent overseas when the right honorable member asked his original question in October last, and his question was answered by the then Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Beasley), I have asked ihe Solicitor-General for a statement regarding this matter, and he informs me that the position is as follows - lt is contrary to practice to table contents of liles of the character asked for. but the facts may be summarized as follows: - 1 to 4. One hundred and seventeen tyres and 4(i tubes were found by the police in the possession of the managing director of Hillman Tobacco Company and the managing director was able to account for all the lyres and tubes with the exception of seventeen tyres. Four of the seventeen tyres were marked with the 'government stamp. The Deputy Crown Solicitor, Brisbane, after consideration of the facts and recommendations in the matter, was of opinion that the ease was une for prosecution under the National Security Act nml it was decided that action lie taken under that act in respect oi breaches nf the 'Control of Rubber (Distribution of Motor Tyres and Motor Tubes) Order by the buyer and seller of the tyres in question. Complaints under the National Security Act were accordingly laid and the first complaint was heard nl 21st November Inst and was dismissed. An appeal against the magistrate's decision was lodged and is now pending. Tin- prosecution against the other .party to the transaction has been adjourned until the res-nit of the appeal is known. No tyres or tubes have been confiscated but at present the seventeen tyres are being held as exhibits in the pending cases.

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