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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Dr EARLE PAGE (Cowper) .- I do not intend to labour this bill, nor to traverse the arguments which I raised during the second-reading debate on the original measure. The whole subject has been thoroughly thrashed out. We all agree on the principle of the bill, and it will be simply flogging a dead horse to continue discussing it. I congratulate the Government on separating this bill from the original measure, thus making the Commonwealth liability for State debts no longer a matter for controversy. There is no question that had the original measure not been so altered the Government would probably have been dragged into litigation under another part of the bill. The mere fact that the Government is introducing this measure shows its obvious desire to put the whole issue on the highest plane. The Government may have made a mistake in not paying the interest commitments of New South Wales on the 1st February. Had it a doubt at all it should have paid the money and afterwards brought down legislation of this sort to prevent any limelight from being thrown on the subject. The time has come to bury that mistake. We gain nothing by holding continual post mortems on the corpse. We should get back to the living problems that are associated with" the remaining portion of the original bill, which is urgent, and still has to be dealt with. I hope that this legislation, because of its national character, will be carried unanimously by all members of this House, and that when this proposed alteration has been made it will be embodied in the Financial Agreement, from which the particular words referred to by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) should be removed. I appeal especially to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and his followers in this chamber to support this bill, and induce the Government of New South Wales to agree to this alteration being incorporated in the Financial Agreement itself.

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