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Wednesday, 29 June 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - It is now a considerable time ago since it was decided by the Commonwealth to take over the State Departments of Navigation. Officers were appointed at fairly substantial salaries, and, although the war has intervened, it was anticipated that long before this navigation, with the exception of minor matters, would be entirely controlled by Comonwealth authority. It is some years ago since the. first Director of Navigation was appointed for the Commonwealth. Since then one or two gentlemen have bfien appointed to succeed each other in that very important and well-paid office, but so far the Department has not done anything in the direction of organizing for future development which would warrant the expenditure already incurred, or warrant us in continuing to pay money for its upkeep.

Senator Keating - The Navigation Act has only just been brought into operation.

Senator DUNCAN - It was proclaimed in operation a month or two ago, but the organizing work of the Navigation Department is supposed to have been going on all the time. There has been a Director of Navigation, and a Deputy Director wasappointed some six or eight months ago. Various other officials have been appointed, but very little is known to honorable senators, or to the commercial public,concerning what is being done by the Department, or what it proposes to do. I think that we should have some information as to the work of the Department, and whether it is proposed to take over from the State Governments at leait those sections of their Departments which it will be necessary to take over if the Commonwealth is to run the Navigation Department in a proper way. The position at present is very unsatisfactory. State officials are like Mahomet's coffin, suspended between earth and Heaven. They do not know whether they are to remain State officials or become Commonwealth officials. The sooner the matter is cleared up the better it will be for the Navigation Department, and for the commercial section of the public.

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