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Wednesday, 14 October 1964

Senator COOKE (Western Australia) . - I should like some information from the Minister in respect of Division No. 202 - Embassy - United States of America. Every year we see an extraordinary position in the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, lt has been discussed, but no satisfactory arrangement seems to have been made. Item 01 in subdivision 1 relates to a proposed appropriation of £96,600 for salaries and allowances as per the schedule on page 163, whereas the next item relates to a proposed appropriation of £147,600 for temporary and casual employees. No particulars are given as to how that money is to be disposed of or the services that it will cover. The schedule lists some very important classifications of officers, but in no other department do we find such a proportionately high provision for temporary and casual employees.

Division No. 231 - Consulate-General - New York makes provision for a proposed appropriation of £29,600 for salaries and allowances as per the schedule, and a proposed appropriation of £128,300 for temporary and casual employees. The position in regard to the office of the ConsulateGeneral at San Francisco, which is covered by Division No. 233, is not quite so blatant. The proposed provision for salaries of permanent officers is £19,200 and the proposed provision for salaries of temporary and casual employees is £25,400. There is no information whatsoever as to what constitutes that amount.

While seeking this information from the. Minister, I want to say that our representation overseas is excellent. We have encouraged and should continue to encourage young Australians to aspire to be career diplomats. Although heavy expenditure may bc necessary for casual employees, offices overseas should be mads a training ground to provide experience. ' More opportunity should be given to Aus,tralians to occupy positions in these offices. Casual employment in the Commonwealth service should be cut to an absolute minimum. There must be some extraordinary features of this service. Nevertheless, to my way of thinking, it is very casual and easy-going to nominate three offices in relation to which the Parliament is asked to authorise expenditure of £230,000 although no particulars of the proposed expenditure are given. This is a major portion of the expenditure by this service and I should like more specific details and some expression of opinion as to whether permanent officers could not occupy some of these positions, providing a more permanent structure.

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