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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- I should like to know whether the item "machinery and plant for manufacture of 'munitions " refers to machinery actually used for the manufacture of munitions or to plant used for making lipstick holders and other articles in competition with private manufacturers. Some time ago it was said that the Government intended to co-operate with private 'manufacturers in plans for the making of munitions. The manufacturers do not want to make materials of war and hope that the day will never come when their factories will be turned into munition-making plants. They are, however, prepared to set aside a portion of their floor space and to train men in the making of these requisites, so that, almost at a moment's notice, munitions may be manufactured if required. The Australian Government seems to be strangely neglectful in this respect. We all know what happened in England during the Great War, and that it was not until Lloyd George organized the supply of munitions in 1915, that there was any regular supply of guns and materials to the armies at the front. Britain is organizing against a recurrence of such happenings, and Australia would do well to do likewise. Some time ago the Government appointed a gentleman to interview manufacturers in this connexion, but after about a fortnight he was suddenly withdrawn, and nothing has been heard of him for three or four months. I should like to know the reason. I know that in the munition factories there is a tremendous amount of jealousy. The factories turn out articles, which are not munitions of war, including a vast quantity of lipstick holders, axles and other things, in competition with the manufacturers of Australia. That is not fair.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - What about gas masks?

Senator LECKIE - I should like to know if this trade has been stopped. To my mind, it is rather remarkable that the potentialities of Australian factories for the production of munitions are being ignored, in view of the fact that the British Government is actively engaged in organizing the whole of the factories of the United Kingdom, so that, at a moraent'3 notice, they can he brought into full operation. _ The manufacturers of Australia do not want to turn out materials of war in times of peace, but at the same time they want to be able to play their part and turn their factories and the experience of their trained men to the service of their country during a period of emergency.

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