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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4468

Mr Bennett asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to the plight of Mr F. J. Stephens, Leathergoods Manufacturer, of Rivervale, Western Australia, over cost increases affecting Defence contracts.

(2)   If so, has this led to staff redundancy and subsequent payoffs of female staff living locally and trained in this industry.

(3)   Is he able to offer some solution to this firm's problems and prevent unemployment; if so, what action does he propose to take.

Mr Enderby - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes. The firm of F. J. Stephens accepted a contract from the Department of Supply in September 1972 for the supply of canvas field packs. This was a firm price contract - that is, not subject to price variation on the ground of changes in wages or material costs, etc. - and is the eighth contract undertaken by the firm on that basis since 1969, in accordance with tenders submitted by the firm.

In this case, after commencing work, the firm sought a price increase because of a rise in staff wages. In accordance with normal contracting practice the increase was refused.

On 17 September 1973 Mr Stephens formally requested cancellation of the contract. He proposed partial completion of the items required.

(2)   It is understood that the firm has recently retrenched some 27 female employees, but it is not known whether all of these retrenchments were due to the firm's difficulty over this one contract.

(3)   In normal circumstances cancellation of a contract at the request of the contractor would attract certain financial penalties; in this case I have agreed to waive any such penalties and to accept final delivery on completion of any work currently in progress. Due to reduced Defence requirements the outstanding balance will not be re-ordered, and I am unable to offer any solution to the firm's problems, other than that already agreed - cancellation of the contract without penalty.

Staff of Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition: Overtime and Allowances (Question No. 1412)

Mr Whan (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

What overtime and allowances have been paid since 2 December 1972 to (a) the following members of the staff of the Leader of the Opposition: (i) Dr J. Best, (ii) Mr J. Knight, (iii) Mr W. R. Sheppard, (iv) Mr J. Fraser, (v) Miss J. Thompson, (vi) Mr J. Goodfellow, (vii) Miss A. Fox and (viii) all other members of his staff and (b) the following members of the staff of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: (i) Mr A. O. Hay, (ii) Miss B. M. Anderson, (iii) Mr K. Randall and (iv) all other members of his staff.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

See answer to Question 1385.

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