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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) (Minister for Home Security) . - I have been in this Parliament for a long time, but the attack just made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) is about the meanest exhibition I have ever listened to.

Mr Marwick - The Minister asked for it. He accused me of not having previously protested.

Mr LAZZARINI - Neither you did.

Mr Marwick - That is a deliberate lie.

Mr LAZZARINI - The fact is that Ministers walk from the Hotel Kurrajong and the Hotel Canberra to their offices every day. They never take cars unless it is raining. On this particular morning rain was pouring. I did not know that other Ministers had ordered cars. When the car arrived the driver told me that it had been ordered for three Ministers. There were six ministerial typists waiting to go to their offices, and they would have been drenched if they had had to walk. Then they would have had to sit in their wet clothes all day. I told the driver that I would take them with me. The honorable member for Swan knew that, because he was in front of the Hotel Kurrajong, and saw everything, that happened. I ordered the car for the purpose of taking the six typists to Parliament House so that they would not be drenched, and run the risk of catching pneumonia; yet the honorable member tries to make political capital out of an incident of that kind. I have not used a car a dozen times, and my car expenditure would amount to only a few pounds a month. The expenditure incurred by other Ministers would not amount to much more. When I am in Sydney, I do exactly the same now a? when I was a private member. I walk from my home to where I catch the electric train by which I travel to the city, and I travel home the same way. So much for the use of cars. I take this opportunity to " nail " the mean charge so that my reply will appear in Hansard together with the charge itself.

The honorable member referred to the increase of £53,000 in the vote for the Department of the Interior. In my opinion, it is an extraordinary tribute to the efficiency of the department that it has been able to do such a colossal job with such a small increase of general expenditure. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) spoke of the increased vote for the Solar Observatory at Canberra. As a matter of fact, the increase is only £250, and that is for the salary of two apprentices. Surely, the honorable member will concede that apprentices must be appointed from time to time, or there would be no staff to take the place of the older men when they retire.

Increased expenditure on motor vehicles is due to the greatly expanded programme of work upon which the Department of the Interior is engaged, most of them for other departments.

Mr Harrison - Transport costs incurred for other departments are shown in a separate item.

Mr LAZZARINI - Nevertheless, general administration involved in the expanded programme of works requires the use of more motor transport, while costs of petrol, tyres, &c, have greatly increased. Reference has also been made to increased expenditure by the electoral branch. I remind honorable members that there is to be an election next year.

Sir Frederick Stewart - "What, before June next?

Mr LAZZARINI - -Honorable members seem to forget that a rationing scheme was introduced for which books were printed by the Department of the Interior, and distributed to the public at special booths all over the country. The cost of conducting those booths was much the same as if a general election had been held. The department also handled the man-power registration.

Sir Frederick Stewart - But those costs were included in last year's budget. Rationing came into force in June of last year.

Mr LAZZARINI - Expenditure must be incurred this year in preparation for the general election next year. The roll? cannot bc printed between June and August. The main rolls will be printed most likely in February or March next; only the supplementary rolls will be printed after the end of the financial year. That is the explanation of the very small increase of expenditure by this greatly expanded department which is doing a very fine job.

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