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Wednesday, 24 September 1958


Mr FAIRHALL (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - I have had occasion to point out in the House before, of course, that the general level of civil defence preparations must be related primarily to the assessment of the need made by the Department of Defence. Up to this point in time, of course, the Commonwealth has made its contribution through the Civil Defence School, at Mount Macedon, which, as I am sure the honorable gentleman will appreciate, is regarded on all sides as being a thoroughly efficient and thoroughly successful school. Regardless of the assessment of the need, however, it is agreed that there ought to be a basic level of general preparations, and that there ought to be agreement with the States as to the division of responsibilities. The honorable member will have noted that, this year, there appears in the Estimates a vote of £300,000 for this work. How it is to be done is a matter that has been referred to the inter-departmental committee that he has mentioned. I think I can assure the honorable gentleman that there will be no unreasonable delay in the presentation of the committee's report, or in the consideration of it.

With reference to the comments made by the responsible Minister and the Director of Civil Defence in New South Wales, I think it can be said, not unreasonably, that New South Wales has done a fairly good job in civil defence as far as it has been able to go. I can well understand the impatience of the people concerned, because, from here on, further progress may well have to wait on the sort of determination that the inter departmental committee will make. Again, I assure the honorable member that there will be no unreasonable delay.







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