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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2397

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been drawn to the request made by Mr N. Sakiasi Waqanivavalagi, leader of the Fijian delegation to the 19th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in London, as reported in The Canberra Times' of 20 September 1973, for Fijians to be allowed into Australia for short periods of employment.

(2)   In view of the critical shortage of fruit pickers for the canned fruit industry, and the request of fruitgrower organisations for Fijian workers for fruit picking, will he meet this request.

Mr Grassby - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   I have seen the newspaper report mentioned.

(2)   The Government's views on such proposals were stated by me in this House on 25 May last in answer to a question from the honourable member for Angas (Hansard, page 2684). The Government's policy has not changed since then.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Question No. 1044)

Mr Snedden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Did he indicate on 25 September 1973 that one of the reasons for the expansion that has occurred in his Department is the need to answer correspondence and questions on notice similar to question No. 964.

(2)   What increase has occurred in correspondence received by him compared, with previous Prime Ministers. <3) What is the relative number of questions on notice asked of him in the first 8 months of 1973 compared with the first 8 of 1972.

(4)   What increase in staff or establishment has occurred because of the need to answer correspondence.

(5)   What increase in staff or establishment has occurred because of the need to answer questions on notice directed to him as Prime Minister.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   I am informed that the number of letters dealt with by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet including letters addressed to the Prime Minister and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet but excluding campaign letters and personal letters dealt with in the Prime Minister's Private Office, was 62 per cent higher on the average in 4973 than for comparable months in 1972.

(3)   From January to August 1973, the period referred to by the right honourable member, there were 146 questions on notice to me or to the Minister representing me in the Senate. For the same period in 1972. 124 questions were asked. Taking the comparison further, there were 192 questions asked in the period January to 16 October 1973 as against 140 in the same .period in 1972.

(4)   and (5) There has been a re-organisation of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet since the present Government came to office which has resulted in an increase in staff. This increase was necessitated by the additional workload resulting from an increased level of Government activity, new Government initiatives, and factors such as a higher volume of correspondence and increases in the number of parliamentary questions.

All Branches of the Department deal with correspondence and parliamentary questions. Furthermore, the duties of positions, including new positions, usually cover a wider range of activities than solely correspondence and questions. Therefore, I cannot give an accurate answer to these parts of the right honourable member's question by referring to a specific number of positions. I can say, however, as an example, that a new ministerial correspondence section was established this year, inter alia to assist with the additional correspondence load, and this section is staffed by 13 persons.

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