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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Dr EVATT (Barton) (Minister for External Affairs) .- The extra expense incurred on behalf of the Australian Legation in China during the last twelve months is due to a number of factors. This is the first full year in which the legation has been operating, and a very great burden has fallen upon the Minister, Sir Frederic Eggleston. His activities have been of inestimable value to Australia. His despatches, and the close liaison which he maintains with the Chinese Government, the British Ambassador to China, and the representatives of other governments at Chungking, have helped the Commonwealth Government in many ways.

Mr Harrison - The reason for the increase is shown in the details of the proposed vote. Communications will account for about £18,000 more than is allotted to the High Commissioner's Office in Canada.

Dr EVATT - I am glad that the honorable member mentioned that fact. For example, the cost per cabled word from Chungking to Australia is 7s. as compared with 71/2d. from Britain to Australia. The difficulty of maintaining ordinary communications has greatly increased since Japan entered the war, and there has been a large increase of the volume of cable communications between this Government and the Australian Minister at Chungking. That increase applies not only to this legation, but also to the Australian Legation in the United States of America.

Mr Menzies - Prices have risen very much in China.

Dr EVATT - Yes. The manner of life there has imposed very special difficulties on the Minister and his staff. I assure the committee that the expenditure is watched carefully by the Department of External Affairs. For the money expended at the legation, Australia is obtaining very satisfactory and efficient service.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of the Treasury.

Proposed vote,£1,616,000.

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