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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2670

Mr ERWIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. On 19 December 1972 the Minister issued a statement giving information on the proposed reorganisation of the defence group of departments. The merger of all defence departments bar the Department of Supply into one department was to have been completed by the end of 1973. How far has this defence group reorganisation progressed? Why was the area of procurement not included in the merger as suggested by the Minister?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - The integration of the Service departments is well under way. It is being carried out by a commitee headed by Mr Bruce White, the Secretary of the Department of the Army. He is being assisted by the Secretary of the Department of Defence. A great many conferences have been held between the officials and the chiefs of Staff. These committees are considering the situation and continuing their inquiries. I hope to be in a position before the House adjourns at the end of this year to be able to make an announcement to the Parliament concerning the progress of the integration of the Defence and Service Departments. I anticipate that it will be possible for me as Minister for Defence to introduce legislation in the autumn session of the Parliament in 1974 which would provide for the complete integration of the Service Departments.

I come to the second part of the question raised by the honourable member relating to the Department of Supply. It has always been envisaged that that part of the Department of Supply which relates to the procurement and evaluation of defence equipment would be integrate.! into the Department of Defence along with the other three Service departments. This of course will now be a matter for further discussion between myself and the Minister for Supply and Secondary Industry. We already have had one discussion on how this ought to be achieved and again, I would hope that when the statement is ready to be delivered to this Parliament, I will then be in a position to answer fully the question raised by the honourable member.

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