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Thursday, 26 November 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I appreciate the value of the publication entitled Current Notes, which honorable senators receive fortnightly, and I have no hesitation in saying that of the numerous governmental documents and publications we receive from time to time it is the most informative. It contains much valuable information and enables members of Parliament to debate subjects of public importance more intelligently than would be possible had they to rely upon a more or less haphazard research. I have watched the growth of this publication, and I suggest to the Minister controlling the department that an effort should be made to increase its circulation. In a crisis it is most essential that there should be a well-informed bloc thoroughly acquainted with the points at issue. Owing to the expense involved, the Government cannot make the publication available free of cost to every one desiring it, but under a contributory system copies could be supplied to many who do not now receive them. The Commonwealth Tear-Book and Production and Finance Bulletins can be purchased, and there does not appear to be any reason why this valuable publication should not be on sale. I have submitted a large number of names of persons anxious to receive copies regularly ; but I know that there must be some limitation in this respect. As the booklet must play a definite and important part in our national life, I ask the Minister to consider seriously the adoption of a system under which those who wish to obtain copies may do so on payment of a charge or subscription. Owing to the value of its contents the circulation has increased. The subjects dealt with are so well prepared that they can readily be understood. I was very interested to hear the remarks made by the Minister concerning the reorganization of the department. I firmly believe that Australia must take an even greater interest in international affairs, and be well informed concerning what is being done in other parts of the world. I was interested to read statistics concerning the cost of similar departments in the Irish Free State, Canada and South Africa, where the conditions are somewhat similar to those in Australia. The salaries of the head-quarters staff in the countries mentioned are - Irish Free State, £13,642; Canada, £26,050; South Africa, £17,252 ; and Australia - I recognize that the department here is still in its infancy - £4,782. The total expenditure of similar departments in the countries mentioned last year were - Irish Free State, £94,406 ; Canada, £2o5,000-

Senator Sir George Pearce - Those amounts include certain expenditure incurred by Ministers.

Senator HARDY - I was about to say that it- covers the duties of other than those directly associated with the department. In South Africa, the total expenditure was £106,456, and in Australia it is only £10,096. I do not complain because the cost, of the Commonwealth Department is low in comparison with the countries I have mentioned, because I know that the department in Canberra has only recently been re-organized, but sooner or later it will assume the importance of other major departments, and its work will be even more extensive in the years to come. It is rendering a very valuable service as a liaison between the Commonwealth and other nations, and its development should be encouraged.

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