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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- I support the remarks of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) regarding departmental delays in settling accounts with small business concerns. As the result of the rapid expansion of departments, a bottle-neck appears to have been created, and this is responsible for unfortunate delays. The fault is not confined to the Department of the Interior, and I hope that prompt action will be taken by the Government so that honorable members will have no cause for further complaint.

The increase of the vote for the Department of the Interior is not astonishing, as it undertakes a good deal of constructional work for the Government. In wartime, some waste is inevitable. Undoubtedly in the more leisurely days of peace, some of that waste would not occur. Another factor responsible for it is the constantly changing war situation. A project started to-day may be altered two weeks hence, or it becomes obsolete.

I regret that some honorable members have indulged in cheap criticism of expenditure incurred by Ministers in and around Parliament House. That criticism may be levelled against any government at any time. Without referring to specific cases, I have noticed that the use of motor cars has been considerably restricted since the Labour Government took office.. Some time ago I complained privately to Ministers about, the excessive use of motor cars, and I am gratified to see that the position has improved. The action of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) in repeating a private conversation with a Minister is simply not done between gentlemen.

In to-day's issue of the Sydney Morning Herald appears an excellent article upon the activities of the Allied Works Council. Honorable members opposite are not likely to disagree with this analysis by a journal that normally doe3 not support the Labour party.

Mr Anthony - Why do not Ministers make the defence?

Mr BARNARD - I assume that the honorable member is simply following the lead given by the executive of the organization to which he belongs, in a letter that the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) read a few days ago.

Mr Harrison - Beading of confidential letters is not done between gentlemen, either.

Mr BARNARD - The letter was addressed to the honorable member for Ballarat.

Mr Harrison - The Leader of the Opposition did not address it to him, and the communication was marked " Private and confidential ".

Mr BARNARD - The information wa3 not private and confidential when it reached the honorable member. The Opposition wanted to keep that letter to itself, but, when it came into the possession of the honorable member for Ballarat, he was justified in revealing the duplicity of the Opposition, especially in view of its professions of co-operation.

Mr McEWEN (INDI, VICTORIA) - Obviously, the letter was extracted from the file. It was not intended for the honorable member for Ballarat.

Mr BARNARD - It was addressed to him. Honorable members can establish that by reference to the letter, which, 1 understand, was tabled. The article to which I refer states -

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