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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Lazzarini) to explain several items in which increases of expenditure are proposed. We have been told again and again, in connexion with the austerity campaign, that petrol, rubber and man-power must be conserved in every possible way; yet, under the heading " Motor vehicles - purchase, upkeep and hire, including use of private vehicles for departmental purposes ", we find that the vote of £18,500 last year was exceeded by more than £6,000 and that the proposed vote for this year is about £6,000 in excess of the actual expenditure last year. The estimate of last year is thus expected to be exceeded by over £12,000 this yea.r. How can this be justified in the circumstances in which we find ourselves? No doubt we shall be told that producer-gas units are being used, hut that does not obviate the extra use of tyres. No amount was placed on last year's Estimates for " Minor transport services for other departments ", for which an amount of £3,500 appears on this year's

Estimates. This item also demands ex- 1 plana tion.

The proposed vote for the Electoral Branch is £138,000, which is more than £21,000 in excess of the actual expenditure incurred last year. What does this large increase imply? Does the Government contemplate reprinting the electoral rolls for the purpose of an election during the year? I admit that if, as the result of an election, the present Administration be superseded it would be a welljustified expenditure; but we have no information concerning the Government's intentions. Has this proposed vote anything to do with the Government's projected referendum on constitutional issues ?

Another item of increase which seems to be symptomatic of this budget relates to the employment of temporary and casual labour in all government departments; take, for example, the Commonwealth Solar Observatory. Is any war work being done at the observatory which would justify an increase of the vote under this item ? I can understand that increases might occur, in certain instances, in the expenditure on salaries and allowances for permanent officers, for statutory increments have to be paid ; but I cannot understand why there should be an increase of the vote for temporary and casual employees. Surely departments not engaged on war service must be reducing their administrative activities?

Mr Lazzarini - Does the honorable member suggest that war work is not being done in the Department of the Interior?

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