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War Economy

Pacific Defence Conference also deals with Reserve Supplies

Pacific Defence Conference also deals with Reserve Supplies

At the Pacific Defence Conference in Wellington, in April 1939, representatives from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji dealt at some length with supply problems and, in particular, with the question of reserves. It was decided that services supply representatives should fix the scale of reserves for the armed services and that six months' reserves of civilian requirements was reasonably adequate. This confirmed the need for six months' reserves of essential commodities at least, but in view of the low level of importing it is doubtful whether New Zealand had six months' reserve of many imported commodities at this time or when war broke out.

The conference discussed how the productive resources of the United Kingdom could fulfil the requirements of Australia and New Zealand. So that the necessary war potential in the United Kingdom could be set up, the Australian and New Zealand Governments were asked to make definite estimates in peace of what their requirements would be and to place dormant orders without delay. This request to estimate requirements came two years eight months after the New Zealand Minister of Defence had said in Parliament, ‘… A committee on which some twenty Government Departments are represented is investigating the problem of supplies in war….’1

The conference also considered how the resources of Australia could be used to fulfil New Zealand requirements. New Zealand was advised that it would take approximately two years to complete the additional productive capacity and that firm orders should be page 111 placed. The United Kingdom delegation gave warning of the increasing preoccupation of British industries with their own government's orders, and encouraged Australia and New Zealand to manufacture war equipment.

1 See p. 31.