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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- In his budget speech, the Treasurer stated- that a committee of Cabinet consisting of the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), the Minister for

Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) and himself had recently given special consideration to the problem of post-war reconstruction. So far as I can discover, the Estimates contain no provision for expenditure by that committee. I emphasize the vital urgency for speed in this matter. In my opinion, the subject cannot be properly handled when four busy Ministers are expected to divide their time between winning the war and planning for the peace. This work should devolve upon a special Minister. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) suggested the appointment of a Minister for Post-War Reconstruction and Economic Re-organization, and I agree that one Minister should have the sole responsibility for organizing the resources of the country to re-absorb men and women into remunerative employment. Although that Minister would probably find that every member of this Parliament is far too busy with assisting to win the war to be able to devote any time to post-war reconstruction, there are members of the State parliaments and the various municipalities, as well as many men and women holding representative positions, who are most anxious to do everything within their power to prepare the way for the return of the country to peace-time conditions. Every person who has some contribution to offer should be able to place his views and services at the disposal of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. I cite the example of beleaguered England, where, in spite of anxiety about grave shipping losses, and the "blitz", the Government is still able to consider post-war planning. Various committees are engaged in . examining particular problems, and from time to time abridged reports of their activities are published in the Australian press. I am afraid that if this work is left to the scant consideration that four Ministers can devote to it and until the Commonwealth Parliament is clothed with wider powers, valuable time will be lost in tackling this all-important problem.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the general aspects of post-war reconstruction. The subject is not mentioned in the Estimates.

Mr CALWELL - I am stressing the point fervently and vigorously, and I trust, with some little eloquence, in the hope that the Treasurer will make provision in the Estimates for work of this sort, and that I shall so impress the Prime Minister that he will announce that Cabinet will consider the appointment of a Minister to attend to post-war reconstruction.

Mr Menzies - Why not appoint an additional Minister?

Mr CALWELL - The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) is the last one who should talk about appointing additional Ministers. When he was Prime Minister, he appointed three additional Ministers, but instead of solving his troubles thereby, he increased them. I should not like the present Prime Minister to have that performance.

I hope that the Government will make a practical approach to the problem of posit-war reconstruction without delay. At present, many thousands of people fee] that their efforts are being frustrated because there is no Minister whose sole responsibility is to handle post-war reconstruction. They are anxious to cooperate to the best of their ability with the Government on our second greatest problem; winning the war is our first.

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