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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr LAZZARINI (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister Assisting the Treasurer) - On the 21st November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he would make a statement before Parliament went into recess showing the steps taken by this Government to increase accommodation in Canberra for office staffs, and to provide homes for public servants in order that this capital should be in fact as well as in name the seat of Government.

The following reply has now been received from the Minister for the Interior: - Shortly after its assumption of office, this Government transferred to Canberra the central office staffs of the Pensions Branch and the Department of Home Security. The provision of accommodation for the transfer of additional departments depends upon the funds that can be made available by the Treasurer. As the honorable member is aware, the needs for the successful prosecution of the war must have first call on the moneys available to the Treasury. Tenders are now being called for the completion of Melbourne Buildings at Civic Centre. This work was recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. The buildings when completed will be used for office accommodation. The staffs to be transferred to .the new buildings will be decided upon when- the work is nearing completion about niue months hence. The buildings will accommodate about 350 officers. There has been a steady programme of house construction in operation for the last four or five years. This year there will bc a revote of £S7,000, and an additional sum of £200,000 appears on the estimates of the Department of the Interior, which hu ve yet to be considered by Parliament, ft has been stated publicly that it is the intention of the Government to transfer to Canberra as many of the Government departments as possible, with the exception of the service departments which in existing circumstances must remain in Melbourne during the war. The honorable member may rest assured that the Government will do everything within its power to bring to Canberra the central staffs of as many departments as possible, subject to funds being available for the purpose.

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