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- Oct 2019
Since 1941 New South Wales has had continuous Labour government, under which extensions of public enterprise have been few in number, but in some cases important. The Walsh Island Dockyard had been allowed to run down during the late ’twenties, and after accumulating a El million loss during the Depression, had been closed by the Stevens Government in 1933 and its remnants of machinery sold by auction, virtually at scrap prices. The McKell Government, in accord with a 1941 election promise to improve employment opportunities in Newcastle, used the wartime need of ships and engineering services as a reason for establishing in 1942, with some of the old facilities but on a more suitable site in Newcastle harbour, the N.S.W. Government Engineering and Shipbuilding Undertaking. With initial financial help from the Commonwealth Government, this proved an effective enterprise both during and after the war, and at present employs about 1,800 people. It has undertaken shipbuilding for the Commonwealth, dredge repairs and other services for the Public Works Department, merchant ship repairs and general engineering, and it operates a floating dock. As some earnest of further intentions, the 1942 bill for the Dockyard at first contained a general clause authorizing the Governor-in-Council to set up other industrial undertakings, as the Minister-in-Charge, Mr. J. J. Cahill, said the Govern- ment was committed to consider, “at the appropriate time, the re-establishment of such State enterprises as the needs of the people demand”. However, the Legislative Council removed this clause, and a separate statute was used in 1946 to re-establish a State Brickworks. The original works had been sold by the Stevens Government in 1936 under circumstances to be described shortly. The profits of the new Brick- works had by 1951 covered the initial losses of the establishment years. The financial operations of both of these restored undertakings are conducted on the same principles as those of their predecessors, that is, by means of a special deposit account in the Treasury.
Two examples of privatised functions that were re-established in the 1940s