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Thursday, 22 October 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) , - Senator Cant has set me a formidable task by his references to Divisions Nos. 763, 769, 773, 775, 777 and 786, and by his general comment on decentralisation. I do not know that I can provide answers to all his questions, but I shall do my best. The honorable senator linked his reference to Division No. 763 to queries in relation to administrative salaries and payments in the nature of salaries. In general terms, it is true that a comparison of last year's vote and expenditure shows that there has been an increase in this year's appropriation. It is not a substantial increase - £2,866,000 compared with £2,701,000. The explanation of the provision is that the staff employed at 30th June 1964, both permanent and temporary, totalled 1,732. It is expected that the staff will increase by 153 in 1964-65 for the reasons given in the staff statement. Provision has been made in the estimates for 1964-65 for the costs of the additional staff and for adjustment to salaries resulting from the recent basic wage increase. The branches of the Central Administration are Secretariat and General Administration, Finance, Personnel, Research and Development, Contracts, Stores and Transport, Security, Planning, Explosives, Ordnance, Ammunition and Small Arms, Works, Industrial, Aircraft and Guided Weapons.

In each State other than Victoria departmental functions are administered by a State Controller. State branches comprise sections corresponding to the branches of Central Administration, or such of them as operate within the State concerned. In South Australia research and development activities are excluded from the direct control of the State Controller, whilst in Victoria the State functions are carried out by Central Administration. There is a break-up of the State staff into permanent officers, and temporary and exempt employees, as at 30th June 1964. At that date 1,403 permanent officers were employed. Provision is made in the estimates for 1,532 permanent officers, and for 353 temporary and exempt employees, as against 329 such employees at 30th June 1964.

The salary schedules show that there are 1,758 created permanent positions in Central and State Administrations. Some of these positions are vacant and many are filled by temporary employees. An increase in the number of permanent staff is expected as the result of general staffing proposals in the administrative branches. The increase includes 41 cadets to be recruited in replacement of cadets advanced to professional status in 1963-64, and 50 officers for the implementation of the recently approved A.B.C. cataloguing programme.

I turn now to Division No. 773 and the items therein relating to project materials and contractor charges and contributions to research. In previous years these items were included in sub-division 3 - Special Research Projects. By Treasury direction that subdivision has been deleted. The expenditure under item 12 of sub-division 2 relates to a classified weapons project. Item 13 covers space tracking and grants to universities.

Senator Cantreferred to Division No. 775.Reserve Stocks. Provision of f 499,000 is made in sub-division 1 - Purchases - for the purchase of a wide range of reserve stocks and the manufacture of essential explosive materials. The under-expenditure in 1963-64 was due to a delay in the delivery of materials on order, particularly from overseas. In sub-division 2 - Issues - Provision is made in the two items - Amounts to be provided from other appropriations and Amounts to be received from various Trust Accounts - for recoveries from Service Departments and from Government factories for sales of production reserve stocks. The manufacture of essential explosives materials and the cost of purchases of production reserve stocks procured in advance of anticipated orders from the Services less recoveries by sales to Government factories and Service Departments is provided for in this Division. Recoveries by sales to contractors are credited to revenue. Ordinarily factory purchases of materials for specific Service orders are financed from the respective factory trust accounts.

Senator Cantalso referred to Division No. 777 ; Central Transport and Storage Authority ; Furniture Removals and Storage.

It is important to realise that the appropriation for this Division includes furniture removals on behalf of all non-trading Commonwealth Departments, not only on behalf of the Department of Supply. The cost of removal and storage of furniture of public servants, other than those employed toy the Postmaster-General's Department, the Commonwealth Railways and statutory commissions and instrumentalities, is provided for in the appropriation for the Department of Supply.

Senator Wright - What are the exceptions?

Senator ANDERSON - The exceptions are really the commercial undertakings - the Postmaster-General's Department, Commonwealth Railways and statutory commissions and instrumentalities. With those exceptions, the appropriation of ?750,000 for the Department of Supply relates to all Government Departments.

Senator Cant - Could the Minister tell me how this was handled before the Department of Supply performed the duties?

Senator ANDERSON - In previous years this expenditure was financed through the Munitions, Stores and Transport Trust Account and recovered from the client departments. The provision of a single appropriation under the control of the Department of Supply eliminates the need for accounting recovery, which was administratively inconvenient and costly. I think that is a brief and clear explanation of the position.

I turn now to Division No. 786 - Other Administrations - Recoverable Expenditure. This amount is required in the main to meet the estimated cost of rifles, ammunition and miscellaneous stores supplied to countries other than the United States of America and the United Kingdom. I think Senator Cant asked for the names of the countries.

Senator Cant - Yes.

Senator ANDERSON - They include Malaysia and African countries - in fact, any country, other than the United States and the United Kingdom, with which we do business. That is the information with which I have been supplied in relation to Division No. 786.

Senator Cantalso made a generalisation about the decentralisation of all establishments. Frankly, I am not competent to give an informative answer at the moment. I certainly will raise it with the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and ask him to address a communication to the honorable senator in relation to it. I readily think that in the creation of any establishment the Government or any of its departments would have regard to certain known factors of the needs of that particular establishment. As a case in point although it is oversimplification, it is pretty obvious that the appropriate place for Woomera is in Central Australia. It is fairly obvious also that Salisbury, which serves Woomera, needs to be within reasonable distance of Woomera and somewhere in the line of communications. I cannot give a precise answer. I know that the honorable senator would not expect me to do so. I think I can say in broad terms that the location of all these establishments would be selected having regard to the availability of manpower and equipment, and also to their functions. However, I will get a reply from the Minister for Supply in relation to the specific queries raised by the honorable senator.

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