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Thursday, 15 July 1915

Mr BURCHELL - Was Mr. Brookes responsible for summoning the conference? Mr. GROOM. - Mr. Brookes took part in it, but I am speaking of all concerned in the movement. We should congratulate, not only the employers, but also the workmen.

Mr West - They have to do the work.

Mr GROOM - It is not only the doing of the work we admire, but also the spirit of readiness shown by the response made in a time of peril.

Mr Hannan - The success of their labours ' will principally depend on that information from the War Office which Ministers have been trying to get for the last ten months.

Mr GROOM - I quite agree that success will depend on the information that is obtained. In Queensland, for some time past, the professors of the University, acting in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and others engaged in industrial pursuits, have made a most careful inquiry into the resources of the State.

Mr BURCHELL - I think that all the States have been doing that.

Mr GROOM - In their several ways the States have. Of course, these inquiries and organizations are entirely different from anything contemplated by this Bill. Some time ago, in the United States, a very important Conference, convened by Mr. Roosevelt, was held, with a view to gaining information with regard to the natural resources of the country, and a very complete report was obtained. Following on this, the Commonwealth Government approached the States of Australia some years ago with a request that they should have a sort of stocktaking of their natural resources, mineral as well as productive; but I regret to say that the States turned down the proposition. Had the States accepted the suggestion then made, a good deal of most valuable information would have been available before the outbreak of the war. However, the chief point is that Australia does now seem really awake to the seriousness of the situation. Those engaged in industries are coming forward in a ready and willing spirit, and the prospects are that, very shortly, the country will be able to do its utmost for the assistance of the Empire. There are other aspects of the Bill of interest, but they are more a matter for consideration in Committee. I again say that, if we, as members, wish to help the Ministry we ought to get back to our constituencies pretty soon, in order that we may make known the provisions of the Bill, and do what we can to insure its smooth working. There will doubtless be plenty of complaining and grumbling, especially on the part of those who have to make complicated inquiries and returns as to their positions; and our efforts, as I say, ought to be directed to smoothing over difficulties, so that the desired information may be obtained as speedily as possible. I desire to again bring before the notice of the Attorney-General the item of " income " in the census. I suggest that he should make the year referred to in that item synchronize with the year adopted by the States for the purposes of income tax.

Mr Page - Why?

Mr GROOM - Because then he would be able to get the return almost immediately. All the State returns would be available, and a good deal of trouble and expense in compilation would be saved.

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