In 1931, at the height of the depression, the Lang government planned to provide bread for people on the dole. Mr A.M. Shadler was contracted to provide the bread. He had financial backing up to £50,000 to carry out the dole bread contract, but many bakers and flour millers withheld supplies.
In August the government intervened, when it was revealed that a thousand tons of flour was on its way to Java and Singapore. Acting under the Flour Acquisition Act, authorities seized flour trucks at Darling Island where they were to be loaded onto a Burns Philp vessel.
The Leader of the Opposition, Thomas Bavin protested that contracts had been signed and must be honoured. When a backbencher interjected that some millers had refused to make flour available, Bavin retorted “If this is being done for vengeance it is wrong. By the commandeering of flour supplies, the Government has taken up in earnest the gage thrown down by the Master Bakers’ Association and the Associated Flourmillers.”
The flour was seized just before 8am, while wharfies were waiting to be selected for work. 33 trucks stood at wharf 16: 30 others were held in a nearby siding.