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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 0


Mr SPEAKER - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.


Mr WHITLAM - I thank honourable members. The Public Service Board's 1973 annual report describes many of the changes which have occurred in the machinery of government since my Government came to power. The revolution is not yet complete. The Department of External Territories will be abolished on 1 December. Studies are proceeding on the amalgamation of the Departments of Transport and Civil Aviation, on the incorporation of the functions of the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Supply into other areas of the Australian Public Service, and on the amalgamation of the Departments of Army, Navy and Air with the Department of Defence. Further changes may be expected as a result of other inquiries now in process.

In retrospect, these quite massive changes were brought about with reasonable speed and with little friction. The loyalty and impartiality of the Australian Public Service in serving the Government of the day irrespective of political complexion have been demonstrated beyond any doubt. Nevertheless it remains true that some difficulties were encountered and that to an extent these difficulties could be attributed to some lack of understanding on the part of the Government and the Public Service of each other's purposes and processes. I believe that some of these difficulties could have been avoided.

There is a convention in Britain that before a general election members of the Opposition may meet with senior officials and discuss such matters as the structure and working of departments and the problems of personnel and administration. These meetings are held with the full knowledge and approval of Ministers. This convention has not been adopted by any previous Australian Government including that which immediately preceded the present one. However, in the interests of good government I intend that as long as I am Prime Minister the opportunity for such discussions will be made available to the Opposition in the periods before general elections. Naturally they will not embrace matters of a Party political nature. My object is simply to ensure that should there ever be another change of government the changeover as it affects the nation's administration will take place as smoothly as possible. I thank the Public Service Board for its great assistance in making the recent change as smooth as it has been.

Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.







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