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Thursday, 17 November 1938


Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - I should like to try to raise the tone of the debate, by saying that I am not suggesting any evil motives or maldistribution of money. But I cannot help thinking that the man in the street must view this addition to the Cabinet with a good deal of suspicion. It is impossible for any one in Australia who follows the history of this Parliament to help wondering why this additional expenditure has to be incurred. The Treasurer (Mr.

Casey), in confronting many problems during the last two or three years, has repeatedly met the request of the Opposition for more money for urgent needs with the statement that no greater amount could be made available. Even last week, in conference with the State Premiers, he curtailed the amount which the States said they required. He even cut the orthodox amount he would have had to pay had he maintained the expenditure at the level of the previous year. We cannot forget that, during the many months when important Ministers were absent from Australia - I am not suggesting that they had no right to go away; that does not enter into our consideration of this matter - no honorable member on this side of the House, no newspaper, and no public man in Australia, heard of any dearth of assistance in the Cabinet to meet the requirements of the period. Everybody thought that those Ministers who had been left in Australia were discharging their duties in a perfectly satisfactory manner. We heard of no complaint from them. I knew of no Minister who had insufficient time to meet any request that I made of him, nor did I hear any other honorable member complain on such an account. It cannot be denied - it is so obvious that no Minister would risk his reputation by attempting a denial - that there has been some kind of continuous intimidation, by a section of ministerial supporters, of the leader or of the members of the Government, with a view to frequent changes being made of those who hold portfolios. That feeling could not be dissipated; everybody, either consciously or unconsciously, felt that these things were going on. The changes eventuated almost as they were forecast. Knowing and' seein'g this, we wonder whether there is any need for this additional provision of £1,650, and the extra trouble and worry of establishing new departments and fitting men into them. It is not a matter of whether Ministers individually are receiving too much. The feeling is that these re-adjustments, which have cost an additional amount, would not have been made in the ordinary legitimate circumstance of government but for the difficulty of blending the two contending parties together; the impossibility, without making provision for these additional ministerial positions, of quietening the disturbing element. If that be so, the public has reason for complaint, and it is the duty of the Opposition to protest against this measure. On that account 1 justify opposition to the biLl, with a. view to drawing the attention of the public to the fact that these additions, both of number and of money, were not brought about in the ordinary legitimate way because of the needs of the moment, but were designed to stifle some disgruntled members outside the party, or to make what some members consider is a more balanced division of ministerial positions between the Country party and the United Australia party, whose policies, so far as the public knows, are as far apart as the Poles.







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