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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) . - I rise to congratulate the Government on the action that it has taken. I am amazed a.t the objection taken by the Opposition, and by the honorable ' member for Barton (Mr. Lane), who, I think, instead of criticizing; the Government, should go home and learn some- thing of the fitness of things. I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons") chiefly because of his division of the great Department of Defence into two sections, and of his division of the Department of the Interior. I do not propose to list the branches of the Public Service which the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) has had under his control, because the Prime Minister has already done so, but they are vast in * number, and cover a wide field of technical subjects, and no person, not even a person with technical training, could satisfactorily to himself or the country, administer them all. The Prime Minister, in choosing two Ministers to undertake what was previously attempted to be done by one has shown wisdom. The right honorable gentleman has also shown wisdom in dividing the Defence Department, and in placing an eminent soldier in charge of one section. The Department of the Interior was running the risk of becoming a " punk " department, because, although the officers in charge of the several sections are highly qualified, it was impossible to co-relate the jobs that were undertaken by it in the various parts of Australia, not only in Canberra and elsewhere, but also in the Northern Territory, which possesses many problems of a peculiar local kind. To place the works branch and works expenditure in the hands of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) is a wise move. The Prime Minister is to be congratulated in choosing as administrators of Defence and Interior matters honorable gentlemen who have had training in civil life, which will stand them in good stead.

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