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Tuesday, 1 October 1935


Mr R GREEN (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- With the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), I cannot see the necessity for the appointment of an additional Minister. This proposal will increase the number of full Ministers to ten and with the Assistant Ministers, fourteen, who, despite all the propaganda that has been disseminated on this matter, will have to administer only fifteen departments.

These departments are : Prime Minister's, Treasury, Commerce, External Affairs and Territories, Attorney-General's, Defence, Health, Repatriation, Interior, Postmaster-General's, Development and Scientific and Industrial Research, Trade and Customs, and War Service Homes, and the Vice-Presidency of the Executive Council, "which, I presume, may be called a portfolio. Included among the fourteen Ministers who, it is proposed, should look after these fifteen departments, is one of whom we have seen very little in this Parliament. I refer to the Minister directing negotiation for trade treaties, who has been abroad since the early part of this year. As to the necessity for a full Minister to look after this work, I am not aware of any particular good which has resulted from his activities since this Parliament opened twelve months ago. When the only trade treaty ratified by this Parliament, namely, that with Belgium, was discussed by this House that Minister himself, when speaking on the measure, stressed the fact that the agreement had been negotiated, not by himself, but by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White). Furthermore, I point out ' that in the negotiation of trade treaties various departments, such as that of the Prime Minister and the departments of External Affairs, Commerce and Trade and Customs, are called in. I do not know which of these four departments is the most important, or whether one is more important than another in such matters. Possibly all are of equal importance in the negotiation of trade treaties with foreign countries. In addition to the Ministers administering these four departments, there is also an additional full Minister to co-ordinate the negotiations of trade treaties. The failure of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to supply more information to this Parliament on this matter is to be regretted. He has failed to tell the House the real reason why the Government proposes to appoint an additional full Minister. I ask honorable members not to accept this bill without an explanation of what is actually intended by it. The House has not been taken into the confidence of the Prime Minister. I therefore propose to vote against the measure. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is a spare member of the Cabinet. I candidly confess that I have no knowledge of the work upon which he is at present engaged. Has any other honorable member? I see no necessity for that particular fortfolio

As a member of the Country party, I draw attention to the fact that, when that party joined the Government party, the arrangement was that it should have two full and two honorary portfolios. I object to its having only one-fifth of the total number of full portfolios and yet being called upon to shoulder an equal share of the responsibility for the acts of the Government. I have not discussed this matter in any way with my colleagues, and am expressing, definitely and decisively, only my personal opinion.

I invite the Prime Minister to give the real reason for the proposal to increase the number of paid Ministers from nine to ten and, in addition, to state why a full portfolio is to be held by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties in view of the fact that he is merely a liaison Minister. The right honorable gentleman has held up to the present two of the most important portfolios, those of Prime Minister and Treasurer, and I admit the wisdom of conferring full Cabinet rank upon the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey). The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has charge of the administration of three departments, as Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Health, and Minister for Repatriation. Thus he and the Prime Minister hold five of the full portfolios. Yet we are asked to increase the number, without being give* specific reasons for the proposal. I hope that the Prime Minister will make a complete explanation of what is intended.







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