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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (BarkerPostmasterGeneral) . - The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) has made a statement that under this bill, if it becomes law, one member out of five in this Parliament will be a Minister of State. That is not so. If the bill is passed in its present form it will provide for only twelve Ministers of State and three Assistant Ministers, and they will be distributed over two Houses of 111 members, so that the proportion of one in five does not hold good. The honorable member also referred to the position of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the necessity for that right honorable gentleman holding some portfolio other than that of Prime Minister. In support of his contentions he cited the experience of the Scullin Government. In my opinion it would be a mistake to call upon the Prime Minister to administer any government department. The work which the right honorable gentleman has to do is of a particular and peculiar nature, and it is necessary for him to keep in touch with every department administered by his Government.

Mr Mahoney - The Minister did not say that when he was on the back benches.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I have not made the speeches which the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) suggests I made when I was on the back benches; but I certainly did make some which the honorable member might very well read to improve his mind. It is my considered conviction, not acquired since I came to the treasury bench, that the duties of the head of the Government are sufficiently onerous and diverse to occupy his time fully. Then there is the question of the distribution of duties. I do not for one moment suggest, and I do not think that the Prime Minister suggested, that we have arrived at an ideal distribution of duties. I further forecast that, if my friends opposite should get into office again shortly, as they seem to hope, the distribution of duties which will occur in their Ministry will be a matter which members of the then Opposition may be able to criticize with perhaps a very great deal of force.

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