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Friday, 23 September 1949

Mr Fadden (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government is importing sulphate of ammonia from Great Britain and Vladivostock?

2.   If so, what quantity has been imported in each instance?

3.   What is the landed Australian price in each instance?

Mr Chifley - The answers to the right honorable gentleman's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes.

2.   Sixteen thousand four hundred tons of bagged sulphate of ammonia is being imported from 'the United Kingdom, mo3t of which has already been received or is on the water. The shipment of 10,300 tons of bulk material from Russia is now on the water.

3.   The landed cost of United Kingdom materials is £28 10s. a ton main ports with an additional freight charge of £1 15s. a ton for ports north of Brisbane. Landed cost of the Russian sulphate on a bagged basis will amount to approximately £31 a ton.

Brisbane General Post Office.

Mr Calwell l. - On the 14th September, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) asked the Minister representing the- Postmaster-General the following, questions : -

L.   How far has the department progressed with the plans for the building of a new general post office in Brisbane?'

2.   Has the department yet commenced the demolition of the old parcel post office in

Elizabeth-street, Brisbane, where it was proposed to commence work on the section of the new building?

3.   If demolition has not been commenced, when does the department expect to begin building operations?

The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -

1.   The plans for the building of the new general post office in Brisbane are receiving attention. Before the final plans can be completed it is necessary that expert consideration be given to many technical details, including the design and extent of mail-handling machinery to be installed, the allocation and layout of space for telegraph purposes and the determination of what telephone exchange accommodation, if any, is to be provided in the building. Work onthese matters is proceeding, but it willbe some little time yet before finality is reached.

2.   The demolition of the old parcels post office in Elizabeth-street has had to await the availability of alternative premises. Vacant possession of premises known as Denham's Buildings, in Roma-street, has just recently been obtained and general renovations and alterations are now being put in hand to make them suitable for parcels post purposes. It is expected this work will take six months and immediately on completion parcels post activities will be removed from the Elizabethstreet premises, which will then be demolished to make way for the erection of the first section of the new general post office building.

3.   It is hoped to have the new building proposal sufficiently far advanced to enable construction of the first section to commence immediately the old buildings are demolished, namely, in approximately twelve months' time.

Commonwealth Bank.

Mr Chifley y. - On the 15th September, the honorable member for Swan(Mr. Hamilton) asked me questions concerning the use by the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of the bank's official aircraft for the purpose of visiting Queensland. In response to my request, Dr. Coombs has furnished me with information which bears out what I said to the honorable member in my interim reply to his question on the 15th September, the journey was made in the first instance on official duty. Dr. Coombs has further advised that following upon his appointment as Governor it has been his natural desire to visit the main offices of the bank, particularly in the capital cities and to meet again the chief State officers in the several States, the senior executive officers and the managers of as many branches as possible. In his view, personal contact with the bank's staff and some direct acquaintance with the various parts of Australia served by the bank are essential requirements for the efficient performance of the responsibilities attaching to the position of Governor of the bank. With this in mind he has already visited Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. He had planned to visit a number of centres in western Queensland and to visit Brisbane en route, but owing to a visit to the United Kingdom at my request he had to cancel this arrangement. Arrangements were then made for the Governor and the Deputy Governor, Mr. Richardson, to visit Brisbane on Monday and Tuesday, 22nd and 23rd August. The official programme over those days was as follows : - 22nd August -

Official call on Deputy Premier of Queensland.

Official call on Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

Meeting with representatives of other banks in Queensland.

Meeting with staff of the main offices of the Commonwealth Bank in Brisbane during the late afternoon. 23rd August -

Attended civic reception extended by Lord Mayor of Brisbane.

Luncheon with prominent business people.

Meeting with managers and senior officers of suburban branches of the Commonwealth Bank.

In addition, during the period of his stay in Queensland he also called at the following branches of the bank: - King George Square, Brisbane; George-street, Brisbane; Fortitude Valley, Brisbane; Graceville; Stone's Corner; Southport; Coolangatta; Tweed Heads.

He took the opportunity afforded by this official visit to Brisbane to take a brief holiday of eight days, which, as I pointed out to the honorable member previously, is the first holiday he has had for about eight years. He took his family with him in the bank's aircraft to Brisbane. His family and he travelled back to Sydney in the bank's aircraft. He states that on these and the return journeys the bank's aircraft also carried officers of the bank who required to travel between Brisbane and Sydney.

I feel satisfied that there has been no extravagant use of the bank's aircraft, the acquisition of which has proved of considerable advantage in the service of the bank.

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