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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr MENZIES - by leave- I think it proper that, at the first opportunity, I should acquaint the House of the rearrangements that are being made in the Cabinet as a result of the resignations of two of my colleagues. I will, first of all, read the list as it will be after the new appointments have been completed. 1 myself, oddly enough, will continue to be Prime Minister, and my colleague, Sir Arthur Fadden, will continue to be Treasurer. Mr. Harold Holt will be Minister for Labour and National Service. He is, of course, in addition, Leader of the House, and I shall refer to that again. Mr. McEwen will continue to be Minister for Trade; Mr. Casey will continue in his present post and Sir Philip McBride in his. Senator O'sullivan will be the Vice-President of the Executive Council, as well as AttorneyGeneral. Senator Spooner will continue to be Minister for National Development. Mr. Townley will be Minister for Immigration and also will perform certain other functions in relation to the Prime Minister's Department, to which I shall refer later. Mr. Hasluck will continue to be Minister for Territories; Mr. Beale will be Minister for Supply and Minister for Defence Production, and Mr. McMahon will be Minister for Primary Industry. Senator Cooper will be Minister for Repatriation, as before. Senator Paltridge will continue to be Minister for Shipping and Transport and, in addition, will be Minister for Civil Aviation. Dr. Donald Cameron will be Minister for Health, as before; Mr. Cramer will be Minister for the Army, as before; Mr. Davidson will continue to be PostmasterGeneral and will also be Minister for the Navy; Mr. Osborne will become Minister for Air; Mr. Fairhall, as before, will be Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works; Mr. Roberton will continue as Minister for Social Services; and the new Minister for Customs and Excise will be Senator Denham Henty.

It will be seen that I have made several structural changes designed to improve the working of government and administration. The Minister for Defence will, of course, as at present, be in the Cabinet, but the three service Ministers will be outside the Cabinet. This will get rid of what has been to some extent an anomaly, two service Ministers having been in the Cabinet and one not, and will confirm the special responsibility of the Minister for Defence for broad policy.

I am transferring from the Department of Supply to the Department of National Development the following matters: - Uranium, atomic energy, the developmenof bauxite and certain other minerals. All these matters, I have concluded, should be dealt with in association with the other mineral activities of the Department of National Development. They should no longer, in my opinion, be part of the Department of Supply, whose activities are principally, if not entirely, military. I am taking the opportunity to place both the Department of Supply and the Department of Defence Production, subject to the changes that I have mentioned, under one Minister, Mr. Beale.

Mr. HaroldHolt, who will from now on have extremely arduous duties as Leader of the House and chairman of what has previously been called the Vice-President's Committee of Ministers, can clearly no longer continue to administer both Labour and National Service and Immigration, each of which is indeed a busy and extremely important portfolio. I regret very much that, by sheer necessity, Mr. Harold Holt should have to terminate his own administration of immigration, for which the country owes him a great debt.

I am appointing Mr. Townley to be Minister for Immigration. In addition, he will be associated with me in my own department, where he will be able, as Sir Eric Harrison did, to relieve me of the administrative aspects of a number of problems which are associated with the Prime Minister's Department; for example, the Office of Education, the National University, the universities' grants, the Public Service Board, and the like.

In addition to his present portfolio of Shipping and Transport, Senator Paltridge will take over Civil Aviation, thus bringing within the purview of one Minister the transport problems associated with shipping, the Commonwealth railways and civil aviation. This is a heavy assignment, but our experience of Senator Paltridge already suggests that he will cope with it.

Mr. Davidsonretains the Postal Department, and, in addition, takes over the Navy from Senator O'sullivan, who will become Vice-President of the Executive Council and will continue to be Attorney-General and will, of course, have the particular responsibilities of Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Spooner will become Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.

I am transferring Mr. Osborne to the Department of Air, where his abilities and energies, already shown in his present department, will be of particular advantage in a period of reconstruction. I am nominating Senator Denham Henty to the Department of Customs and Excise.

It will be seen that the number of Ministers will, for the present, stand at 21: It is, in my opinion, undesirable that the Senate representation should be reduced. That would be the result if both Ministerial vacancies, one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives, remained tinfilled. The statutory authority is for 22: Ministers. I do not propose to ask for any alteration of the act, nor, indeed, may I say, for any alteration of the salaries now paid to Ministers, but will see how the rearrangement of work indicated in my earlier remarks succeeds. The two vacancies in the Cabinet will be filled by Mr. Beale and Mr. McMahon.

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