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Wednesday, 26 June 1946

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

How many tons of merchandise are held up at New South Wales ports pending despatch to interstate and overseas ports?

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

As at the week ending 22nd June, cargo awaiting shipment to interstate ports from New South Wales was as follows: - Newcastle, 25,000 tons; Sydney, 43,000 tons; Port Kembla, 5,000 tons. These accumulations include the following Queensland .cargoes for which vessels are not being fixed at present owing to the industrial dispute in that State - Newcastle, 8,000 tons; Sydney, 13,000 tons; Port Kembla, 5,000 tons. Vessels have been fixed for approximately 50 per cent. of the cargo for destinations other than Queensland and others will be fixed to load the balance of the accumulated cargo as they become available. The Overseas Shipping Representatives Association is responsible for providing tonnage for overseas destinations and the Director of Shipping has been advised by the Association that the overall tonnage position is satisfactory and vessels have been allocated to lift all cargo available for shipment to main destinations. There are certain destinations, however, such as Singapore and the Far East where full services have not yet been restored and a limited quantity of cargo has accumulated for these ports. There is also a small quantity of cargo awaiting shipment' to other ports where the quantity is insufficient to warrant a ship being fixed at present. coal-mining Industry : Company Shakes;victorian Supplies; Davidson Report,

Mr Archie Cameron n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   What are the paid-up prices of the shares of. the chief coal-mining companies in New South Wales?

2.   What is the market value of those shares to-day?

Mr Chifley - I am unable to furnish particulars of an authoritative nature of the capital structure of the chief coalmining companies inNew South Wales, hut 1 would refer the honorable member to page 102 of the May, 1946, issue of the Sydney Stock Exchange Official Gazette from which he may obtain some of the information he requires.

On the 21st June, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked the following question : -

Is the State of Victoria receiving greater supplies of coal than during the war years?

Victoria is not receiving greater gup- . plies than during war years, but is receiving, a much greater percentage of the New South Wales production of coal. In 1938, Victoria received 1,152,800 tons, representing 12. per cent. of New South Wales production ; in 1942, 1,723,697 tons or 14 per cent. ; in 1943, 1,582,835 tons or 13'.8 per cent. ; in 1944, 1,615,111 tons or 14.6 per cent.; and. in 1945 , 1,487,096 tons or 14.6 per cent. In the first quarter of 1946, Victoria received 15.9 per cent. of New South Wales production and in the period between 1st January and 1st June,. 1946, a total of 647,316 tons representing 15.08 per cent.

On the 21st May the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) addressed the following question to the PrimeMinister : -

Can the Prime Minister say when copies of Mr. Justice Davidson's report on the coalmining industry will be available?

Owing to the magnitude of the report and technical difficulties associated with its printing, the Government Printer advises that the printing of the report will not be completed within three months.

MailServices from Japan.

Mr Forde e. - On the 19th June, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) asked the following question: -

Some of the relatives of soldiers at present serving in Japan have complained to me of delays in receiving letters from that country, the delay being sometimes as long as three or four weeks. Will the Minister for the Army take steps to ensure that the mail service is speeded up?

Owing to the disbandment of the Army Postal Service, the Army has now little to do with the movement of mails to the forces in Japan, except at the Morotai mail junction and at the stage of receipt and distribution in Japan itself. Since the 26th May the civil PostmasterGeneral's authorities have undertaken the assembly, sorting and despatch of -all mails to the Australian forces. The letter mails are despatched by a thrice-weekly air service operated by the Royal Australian Air Force from Melbourne to Morotai; this connects in turn with a further Royal Australian Air Force service scheduled to operate thrice weekly between Morotai and Japan. Theminimum time for the movement of mails from Australia to Japan would be five days ; allowing a day at the despatch end for the make up of the mail, and a day at the receiving end for the receipt and distribution of its contents, the minimum time for movement of mail between Australia and Japan should be approximately seven days. Much longer transmission times are frequently experienced in practice. These are due to the following factors : -

Assembly of mail matter for despatch at Melbourne. -The conveying service leaves Melbourne thrice weekly, and Melbourne postings may therefore have to waitfrom one to three days for connexion with an outgoing aircraft. Postings made in other States have to be routed to Melbourne over ordinary civil postal channels for the same connexion and this adds materially to the time taken by the letters. For distant States it may well happen that provincial postings take as long or longer to reach Melbourne than they do to cover the journey between Melbourne and Japan.

Passage of mails by air to Japan.- The scheduled passage time of five days for the journey from Melbourne to Japan is frequently exceeded substantially. Weatherdelays are frequent over particular sections of the 7,000-mile route. In addition, serious delays occur through aircraft grounding because of unserviceability en route. These interruptions may occur at any stage of the journey and grounded mails have in certain cases had to wait -for periods up to a we(,k for further onward lift. - A combination of interruptions of this type occurred last week. The. only Army postal station on the line is the small team at Morotai which oversees the trans-shipment of mails from one leg of the Royal Australian Air Force service to the other and signals loading and departure advices in both directions. Where planes are grounded or delayed at other points en route the Army is often unaware of the reason and can only' accept the forwarding arrangements made by the Royal Australian Air Force authorities operating the. conveying service.

Prospective improvements.- The essen.tial condition of a; satisfactory . letter service to Japan is that the Royal Australian Air Force "service shall be maintained reasonably . to schedule, and that mails shall be given priority of passage when interruptions do occur: The present thrice-weekly service, if maintained to schedule, would be satisfactory, but the difficulty appears to be in its operation, and the Department of A'ir could perhaps be consulted on the' prospects in this connexion.

Complaints. - Advice from' Japan indicates that mail conditions on the AustraliaJapan and the United KingdomJapan routes are- similar. Delays through weather and unserviceability of aircraft have led .in .each ease to mail passages of twelve days or more.

TOBACCO and Cigarettes.

Mr Forde - On the 19th June the honorable member for Hume (Mr. "Fuller) asked a question concerning the supply of tobacco and cigarettes. The honorable member asked that inquiry, he made into the reasons for the shortage of cigarette papers in particular, and that the' granting pf import licences for cigarette papers he considered.

The Minister for Trade and Customs has now' informed me that inquiries have disclosed that the shortage of manufactured tobacco and cigarettes is entirely due to a shortage of female labour. In an effort to overcome this difficulty, the two largest tobacco manufacturers are taking steps to establish factories in the country- at Forbes in New South Wales and at Healesville and Shepparton in Victoria. The Department of Trade and Customs has already undertaken an investigation to ascertain the. reasons for the shortage of cigarette papers, and, if this investigation discloses that the shortage cannot he overcame, without imports, the granting of import licences will bc given consideration.

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