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War Economy

Supplies from Australia

Supplies from Australia

As wartime supplies from the United Kingdom fell away, New Zealand turned to Australia, where manufacturing potential was expanding rapidly. Australia was in fact following the same path as New Zealand, but was many years ahead in her conversion from a predominantly primary producing country to a country with a broad range of productive effort.

As early as 1936, the Supply Committee of the Organisation for National Security had recommended that New Zealand should support the growing Australian industries by ordering for defence and war stores. This idea was again supported by the Pacific Defence Conference in 1939, but the Australian delegates pointed out that, if their country was to supply New Zealand's needs, it would be necessary to create additional productive capacity, which would take approximately two years and would have to be supported by firm orders.

To try to speed up supply arrangements, a delegation went to Australia in June 1940 and it was agreed that New Zealand would be ‘regarded as one of the Australian States in matters relating to requirements for defence purposes and obtainable in Australia.’ The Australian authorities asked for forward estimates of requirements so that their production plans could be suitably expanded.

However, total imports from Australia in the difficult years, 1941 and 1942, were actually below their 1937 and 1938 level. They page 121 were to be much higher for the next two years, but by this time United States Lend-Lease supplies were becoming available and the crisis was past.