FLAX INDUSTRYCOMMONWEALTH POWER WITH RESPECT TO REGULATION OF FLAX INDUSTRY: DEFENCE POWER
With reference to your memorandum dated 24th June, 1947, flax is, I understand, an essential raw material in defence equipment, being used for linen fabric for aeroplanes, parachute harness, web equipment, thread for boots and uniforms, canvas for tents, gun covers, hammocks, and fire hose, and for many kinds of cordage. In those circumstances it appears to me to be within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to foster and develop the flax industry in Australia, so far as is necessary for defence purposes.
It is not quite clear to me exactly what form of control of the flax industry is proposed and the general remarks above may need some qualification when applied to particular forms of control. It is rather difficult to advise in these matters in general terms and I should prefer to have submitted to me specific proposals for consideration.
I do not think any similarity between the necessity of the flax industry and the necessity of the shipbuilding industry should be taken too far. The shipbuilding industry is a very special position and considerations may well apply to that industry which do not apply to other industries. Nevertheless I feel that the connexion between the requirements of defence and the control of the flax industry is sufficiently clear to enable me to say in a general way, as I have said above, that sufficient constitutional power exists for the purpose.
[Vol. 37, p. 539]