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Wednesday, 24 November 1965

Mr McEWEN - I recall, although not with precise detail, the question which the honorable member asked me and the reply which I gave. The last few weeks have provided evidence of the calls that are made upon the senior officers of the Department of Trade and Industry, requiring frequent journeys overseas. I was away on duty for nine weeks recently. During the same period the Secretary of the Department, Sir Alan Westerman, was away conducting negotiations. A Deputy Secretary of the Department, Mr. Campbell, was for practically the whole of that time the official leader of the sugar delegation. I was the political leader. As soon as Sir Alan returned to Australia, Mr. Carmody, the other Deputy Secretary, left to join me in India and go on to Japan. He is now in the

United Kingdom, conducting further negotiations. I give this information to illustrate the calls presently made on the senior officers of the Department. This could lead to a conclusion that there ought to be at least one more senior officer or it could lead to a conclusion that there ought to be another department. That would be a matter of high policy and not for me to comment upon.

For many years one department, the Department of Commerce, operated to conduct overseas commercial negotiations, whilst a completely different department, the Department of Trade and Customs, had the function of protecting Australian domestic industry. People other than I decided that there were powerful grounds for bringing these two functions under the one roof. I subscribe to the belief that this is desirable, for this simple, statable reason: The person who wants to obtain better access to overseas markets for Australian items of trade will constantly be under pressure to concede reductions in Australian tariffs as payment for that better access, and if he has no function with regard to tariffs, he is likely to ignore the effect of reductions on Australian domestic industry. However, if that person has also the responsibility, as I have, of protecting Australian domestic industry, then he will maintain a proper balance between the two responsibilities and, I think, operate more effectively than two separate and conflicting departments would operate.

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