31 March 1943

16th Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Assent to the following bills reported : - Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill 1943. Widows’ Pensions Bill 1943. Maternity Allowance Bill 1943. Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation

Bil) 1943. Superannuation Bill 1943. Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill

Primary Producers Relief (Superphosphate) Bill 1943.

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Senator ARNOLD:

– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer read the following report, which was published in the Sydney Sun yesterday: -

A telegram from a Victorian town, which has a Third Liberty Loan quota of £0,000 and 60 subscribers, was rushed to the War Loan office to-day.

It reads: “Subscriptions to Third Liberty Loan - nil.”

Is the Department of the Treasury responsible for that declaration in the press? If so, does not the Minister regard it as direct sabotage of the present war loan ?

Senator KEANE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · VICTORIA · ALP

– I have not read the report referred to, but inquiry will be made regarding it, and an answer to the honorable senator’s question will be supplied.

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– Last week I directed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture regarding the compensation to be paid to flax-growers whose crops had failed, and drew the attention of the Minister to a statement in the press setting out in detail what the compensation would be. The Minister stated in reply that the Government had not given any consideration to the matter. I now ask the Leader of the Senate whether the Government intends to pay compensation to flax-growers whose crops have failed ? If so, will the Minister make a statement regarding the compensation to be paid?

Minister for the Interior · QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The matter is at present being considered by the Government.

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Senator WILSON:

– In view of the fact that the Army has proved that it is able to load ships more efficiently and expeditiously /than the waterside workers, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army state whether the Government proposes to use the Army for the purpose of loading and unloading all essential supplies, and to call up the waterside workers for the Army?


– That matter has had the serious attention of the Government.

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Senator KEANE:

– On the 26 th- March, Senator Gibson asked me what steps a potato-grower had to take to ensure that he received the Government’s guaranteed price for potatoes when that price was above the market prices. I am now in a position to inform the ‘honorable senator that in each State a Regional Distribution Committee has been set up, and all marketing is subject to the direction of the distribution manager. While the price of potatoes is in excess of that guaranteed by the Australian Potato Committee, the grower receives the market price less freight and other charges, provided that the net return is not less than the guarantee. When the price falls below that guaranteed to the grower, the potatoes are marketed in the same way as when the price is above the guarantee; but, instead of the distribution manager paying the grower the net proceeds, he pays the price guaranteed by the Australian Potato Committee. The distribution manager then forwards a claim to the Potato Committee for the difference between the net amount realized for the potatoes and the guaranteed price which he has paid to the grower. The above procedure applies to potatoes certified by the inspectors as No. 1 grade. Lower grade potatoes are paid for on the basis of the price realized in the market. The guaranteed minimum prices apply only to growers who have entered into a contract with the Australian Potato Committee.

Sitting suspended from S.9 to 8.2 p.m.

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Motion (by Senator Collings) agreed to-

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 11 a.m.

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Requisitioning of Watchmakers’ Lathes

Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator DARCEY:

– I bring to the notice of honorable senators the arbitrary action of the military authorities in requisitioning watchmakers’ lathes. Already some lathes have been called up in Tasmania. These lathes are indispensable to the watchmaker. Even with the number of lathes normally available, watchmakers throughout Australia are unable to cope with repairs, particularly on behalf of war workers generally and soldiers. All honorable senators are aware that in the past the military authorities, on the ground of urgent war necessity, have requisitioned houses and buildings, which they have never occupied, and in respect of which no compensation has been paid to owners. I have been in the watchmaking business for 50 years, and I know the requirements of the trade in Tasmania. Recently, I received a letter from my watchmaker informing me that the military authorities were requisitioning his lathe. Although the pre-war price of that lathe was £47 10s., the authorities were prepared to pay only £27 10s. for it. I should not object to the requisitioning of these lathes if they were really required as a war necessity. The war effort must be our first consideration. However, I am certain that the military authorities will call up hundreds of lathes, for which they will not find use for some considerable time. In the meantime, serious inconvenience will be caused to the public, and within a short time watches and alarm clocks will not be procurable. There are over 30,000 watch movements in Australia to-day uncased simply because the Government called up the case-makers. Some of the latter should be made available to the trade to make these movements useable.

Senator Keane:

– An arrangement along those lines, is now being made.

Senator DARCEY:

– I understand that a request has been made to the Government that those movements be sent to another country.

Senator Keane:

– That request has been refused.

Senator DARCEY:

– Only a watchmaker, thoroughly skilled in his trade, is capable of using these lathes. The bed of the lathe is about only 18 inches.

I should like to know for what purpose the military authorities intend to use them. I have been informed that they will probably be used in the manufacture of precision attachments for antiaircraft guns. I am certain that the military authorities will not be able to obtain 1,000 watchmakers to make use of all of the lathes. I repeat that serious inconvenience will be caused both to the public and the trade if the lathes are requisitioned in hundreds, and just packed away until the authorities require them. I do not believe that the authorities realize fully the effect of their action. Certainly, they do not appreciate its effect upon the trade. Recently, I was unable to get a job involving the use of a watchmaker’s lathe done in Melbourne. I had to take the job to Hobart. The military authorities should handle this matter with common sense. Apparently, they just made up their minds that they want a number of these lathes. Some time ago they requisitioned a quantity of watchmakers’ equipment in Sydney; but, when a unit of watchmakers’ mechanics went to Egypt, no tools were available for them. Subsequently, they were transferred to a British division, and were employed in the manufacture of precision instruments. That division possessed a perfect plant, which was erected in a thoroughly air-conditioned and dustproof building. When I approached the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) on this matter, he said he did not know anything about the decision to requisition these lathes. I offered the department in Melbourne which was dealing with the matter to surrender a lathe of my own, provided it would not requisition a lathe being used by my watchmaker. To date, I have not received a reply to that offer. I repeat that it is quite unnecessary to requisition thousands of these lathes at the one time. Apparently, the authorities have taken the view that they cannot requisition a number of lathes in one State, but must requisition all lathes in every State. There would be some sense in their decision provided that they called up sufficient watchmakers to operate the lathes. The lathe is the most important part of a watchmaker’s equipment.No watchmaker can carry on his business without it. That is demonstrated by the fact that to-day we are unable to buy nine out of every ten parts contained in a watch. It takes a considerable time to turn any of these parts on a lathe, yet most of them can ordinarily be purchased for about1s. I urge the Government to requisition these lathes only as they are required. I understand that the military authorities expect to obtain 110 lathes in Tasmania. On that basis, apparently, they expect to obtain thousands on the mainland. If these lathes could be put to immediate use on. war work I could understand this decision; but, as I have already said, I am afraid that it will be a case of packing away most of them until they are wanted. Further, the military authorities are offering only one half of the value of the lathes. I also dislike the autocratic attitude adopted by the authorities in this matter. My watchmaker offered to make available a Boley lathe, which, for 30 years, was considered the best in the trade. However, because another lathe, the Lorch, is now considered to be the best, the department is insisting on requisitioning it. The authorities should be satisfied to take a Boley lathe, which is a first-class instrument.

Minister for the Interior · Queensland · ALP

in reply - I shall bring the matter raised by Senator Darcey to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) at the earliest opportunity.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The following papers were pre sented : -

Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No.69.

Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 71.

Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos.68, 70, 72.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes - Tottenham, Victoria.

National Security Act -

National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -

Control of Overseas Postal Communications.

Evacuation of Area.

Prohibited places (2).

Prohibiting work on land (2).

Takingpossession of land, &c. ( 85 ) .

Traffic on roads.

Use of. land (9).

National Security (Internment Camp) Regulations - Rules - Camp ( 4 ) .

National Security (Medical Co-ordination and Equipment) Regulations - Orders -

Control of Medical Equipment (2).

National Security (Prisoners of War) Regulations - Order - Prisoners of War Camp.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, Nos. 62,63, 64, 65, 66.

Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1943, No. 67.

Senate adjourned at 8.11 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 March 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.