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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - It is impossible for a Minister to have at hand detailed information regarding minor administrative matters in the Departments, but I will communicate with my colleague in the morning regarding Senator Payne's observations about the appointment of a Customs officer for Devonport and Burnie. I cannot say on the spur of the moment whether such an appointment has beenmade.

Ican assure Senator Payne that the Government does not keep its ships idle because it wants to. There is an unfortunate dearth of freight to-day, but that is not peculiar to Government ships. Every paper records idle tonnage all the world over, owing to what we all hope is merely a temporary depression in trade. As there islesstrade to do, fewer boats arerequired to do it. I cannot give the honorable senator any indication as to when brisker times may be expected. I wish I could. I hope that the present conditions will be of short duration so far as a country like Australia is concerned. If Providence is reasonably kind to us, and the good season we have now continues, it will not be long, I trust, before these clouds will pass away, and we. shall be basking againin the sunshine of full prosperity.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Divisions114to123 (Department of Works andRailways). £60,820.

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