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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - No analogy whatever exists between the circumstances of this proposal and those referred to by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) with respect to the acquisition of Australian interstate air-lines. In the latter case, the Opposition was opposed to the Government's proposal from start to finish, including the appropriation provision. The Opposition has not registered a hostile vote on this measure. The general tenor of the remarks of all speakers on this side of the chamber was that these communications should be in the. hands of the Postal Department. In fact, many of us said that they should never have been taken out of the ownership of the Government. -.On this occasion, when we are asked to vote £3,000,000, we are entitled to be given a detailed statement of how the Government proposes to expend that money. In the case of the acquisition of the interstate air-lines we said that we did not care what the Government proposed; we were opposed to that measure from start to finish, including 'the appropriation clause.

Mr Conelan -The sum of £4,000,000 was appropriated for the establishment of a Mortgage Department of the Commonwealth Bank.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - On that occasion we supported the Government's proposal, and it is unthinkable that we should object to an appropriation of which we were in favour. Having voted the sum of £4,000,000 for the purpose mentioned, we knew perfectly well how the money was to be expended. In this case we do not know how the money is to be expended. Mention has been made pf the Aluminium Industry Bill. The Opposition fought that measure clause by clause, and for very good reasons.. This matter depends upon the circumstances in which the bill is presented to the Parliament, and the Government's failure to disclose the purposes for which it requires the money proposed to be appropriated. We have a rough, foggy outline of what is proposed, but the Government has nottold us exactly what it proposes to do. It is one thing for the Opposition to oppose the appropriation of a sum of £3,000,000 for the acquisition of interstate air-lines when we were opposed to that proposal. It is quite another thing to support the appropriation of £3,000,000 for the acquisition of telecommunication services, which we believe should be in the hands of the Government; but we should be entitled to. an explanation of the details of this expenditure. Instead of giving. us that explanation, the Minister simply asks us to trust the Government. .Quite frankly, we do not trust the Government.. .

Mr Ward - Honorable members opposite do not trust 'each other.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I recall ' ' occasions upon which the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) was so vocal in his criticism of his colleagues that I wonder Hansard does not smoulder with, the heat of his words. It is clear to the Parliament, and it should be clear to the country, that the Government is -not prepared to disclose the purposes for which it seeks this money. Therefore, the Opposition is not prepared .to agree to the proposed appropriation. The. Minister may argue that it is necessary to appropriate the sum proposed in order to enable the Government to make a start.

Clause 57 provides that if the commission acquires the assets of the companies concerned it shall not he obliged to make payment for three months, and should it fall to make payment within that "(period it may in its discretion pay interest on the amount owing. That is an interesting point. Another interesting point is that it is unusual, if not unique, to hear an honorable member with the socialistic tendencies of the Minister for Immigration defending the rights and privileges of a very successful semiprivate enterprise, and expressing fond hopes for its future. I am sure that if that news reached the Yarra Bank the reception given to my friend's remark would be rather summary.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 30 agreed to.

Clause 31-

The- Commission shall prepare estimates, in such- form as the Minister directs, of its receipts and expenditure for each financial year and shall submit those estimates to the Minister.

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