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Tuesday, 1 October 1935

Mr CLARK (Darling) .- I support the amendment. The duties of Ministers to a large degree are carried out by departmental officials. If a Minister had a good, speedy penman as an Assistant Minister, then the Minister with portfolio would be more or less a rubber stamp.

Mr SPEAKER - Order !

Mr CLARK - Many decisions are made by officials. Four of the present fourteen Ministers were recently absent: overseas and during their absence we heard no complaint that their colleagues who were left behind were not able to carry out the extra duties in addition to their own. Now that those four Ministers are back again surely the Ministry as a whole cannot be overburdened with work. During the last election campaign the Right Honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) promised that a special Minister would be appointed to deal with the problem of unemployment. He stated that hitherto the responsibility for the relief of unemployment rested on the States. The Government has not dealt effectively with this problem and if a special Minister is to be appointed, he should be appointed to deal with unemployment, which is one of the major problems confronting Australia at the present time. It is big enough to engage the whole of the attention of one Minister. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), who was deputed to deal with it, is at present joyriding on the other side of the world. The speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of the present Parliament contained the following statement : -

My advisers regard with sympathy and concern the heavy unemployment which still persists, and propose to give this grave and press ing problem priority over other matters. With this object in view, employment and its associated questions have been allotted as a special ministerial task to the Minister of State for Commerce.

In the reshuffle of portfolios that subsequently took place, the honorable member for Parramatta lost his position in the Ministry, and became UnderSecretary for Employment, Not at any time has he been able to answer questions in relation to unemployment. If any alteration is made, it should be in the direction of the appointment of a Minister to deal solely with this major problem.

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