Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 7 December 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - Senator Reid has made a statement which I take very seriously as should every honorable senator. In a measure he reiterated statements that were made by Senator Duncan and Senator Elliott to the effect that the expenditure on certain additions to Yarralumla, the residence of the Governor-General, was a public scandal. His statements having been broadcast, a certain atmosphere of doubt and suspicion has been created as to the justification for this expenditure. Senator Reid has urged that the matter should be fully inquired into by the Public Accounts Committee. Personally, I think that the statements made are so serious that the Government itself should take action in the matter. In the best interests of those who are closely associated with the big undertakings in this Territory, an inquiry should be held in public. Senator Reid said that, in his opinion, the Federal Capital Commission had deliberately prevented, by manipulation, the investigation by the Public Works Committee of certain undertakings within the Capital. If there is anything wrong or fishy about these matters, they demand the fullest inquiry by a body that should be named by the Government. Unless the matter is cleared up definitely these statements will continue to be made from time to time. Honorable senators who are responsible for them ought to be prepared to back them up. and should spur the Government to action. As public men we must be careful to see that the taxpayers are given value for the money which is expended on works that are carried out by either the Government or the commission. From time to time workmen arccharged with the observance of a go-slow ' policy. It is scandalous for a Government supporter to make such an assertion, seeing that the Government itself is always going slow. I trust that in this instance it will act quickly and probe to the utmost degree the allegations that have been made and the rumours that are in circulation respecting certain buildings in the Territory. Statements of this sort are having a damaging effect on the Territory. In the American language there is the word " graft." The inference from Senator Reid's remarks >s that there must have been either direct or indirect graft in connection with some of these works.

Senator Reid - I did not say anything of the kind.

Senator FINDLEY - I grant that the honorable senator did not; but the statement which he made conveyed to me, at all events, the inference that there was something of that nature in connection with these undertakings.

Senator Reid - I implied that there was gross carelessness.

Senator FINDLEY - If there is nothing either shady or fishy, why waste the time of the committee? The honorable senator has something definite in his mind. He protested earnestly, aud said that it was a public scandal. He disclaimed any intention to castigate the commission because these works had not been referred to the committe of which he is a member, and said that personal considerations did not weigh with him. His argument that the expenditure cannot be justified must have some foundation, or he would not have used it. He and Senators Duncan and Elliott are in duty bound to move the Government to have the fullest inquiry possible made into these matters, in order that the mind of the public may be set at rest. The public are very greatly interested, because some of the newspapers have published these statements with big headlines, thus conveying, by innuendo, the impression that there is something wrong.

Suggest corrections