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Thursday, 24 September 1942
Page: 859

Mr MAKIN - Some time ago, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) asked me a question regarding the employment of Mr. H. V. Mirls in the Department of Munitions. The honorable member sought information about Mr. Mirls's private association, if any, with the Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, or any of its subsidiaries. Mr. BE. V. Mirls was assistant works manager at the Australian Glass Works, Spotswood, when, at the invitation of Mr. W. J. Smith, on the formation of the Ministry of Munitions, in June, 1940, he joined the department. Until about twelve months ago, he acted as assistant to Mr. Smith in carrying out his duties as Director of Gun Ammunition Production. When Mr. Mirls joined the department in June, 1940, he ceased to have any connexion whatever with the Australian Glass Manufacturers Limited, and was entirely employed upon departmental duties. From the commencement of taking up those duties his salary was borne by the Commonwealth. About twelve months ago Mr. Mills ceased to be assistant to Mr. W. J. Smith upon appointment to a definite position in the department as Controller of Gun Ammunition Production. This position was formerly filled by a departmental officer who was detailed for duty at the High Commissioner's office in London as representative of the Department of Munitions. There was no suitable permanent officer available for the vacancy, and Mr. Mirls had so identified himself with the departmental interests that it was considered that he could adequately fill the position with full regard to the fact that it was a position of trust in the Commonwealth service. He has more than fulfilled the departmental expectation on that account, and in all his duties he has completely identified himself with the interests of the Commonwealth. In his position as controller of gun ammunition production, Mr. Mirls nominally was serving under the director, Mr. W. J. Smith, but shortly after he received, the appointment, Mr. Smith obtained leave for a visit abroad. Since his return, Mr. Smith, has gradually been relinquishing the direction of gun ammunition production, leaving more ana more of the control to Mr. Mirls. and Mr. Mirls. for his part, has been dealing directly with the Director-General of Munitions and the secretary of the department. As Minister, I have obtained reports from him and consulted him personally. In short, he has been as much a departmental officer as any permanent officer of the Public Service. Mr. Mirls states that he has no financial or any other interest in Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, or any of its subsidiary companies. He has ceased to have any connexion with any of the companies. He has no income apart from his departmental salary.

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