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Thursday, 6 May 1920

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) .- The House is indebted to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) for having in a very temperate manner brought this matter before it. He has a first-hand knowledge of the facts, being the Minister responsible for the South Australian legislation. My only concern in this matter is in preventing duality of control. Apparently in this case, as in so many others, immediately the Commonwealth takes a step forward it treads on the heels of the States, the State and Commonwealth authorities trying to do the same work. On a previous occasion, in connexion with the pensions, I made a firm protest, and took what action I could to prevent the establishment of two Departments, and I again tell the Minister that whenever it is possible , to prevent the duplication and overlapping of Commonwealth and State Departments, I shall consistently' try to prevent it. I can see ahead of us a thundering debt, which will be piled up as the result of huge programmes for naval construction and other defence work, and' unless the governing authorities of Australia set to work to define their respective domains, and keep within those domains, the financial drift will be hopeless. It behoves every member of the House to take a definite stand against duplication of effort. In my opinion, the Commonwealth, had it conferred with the States at the inception of the war service homes scheme, could have come to an arrangement with them which would have satisfied both parties. Recently I travelled with the Western Australian Minister responsible for the building of homes. He thought that he had concluded an arrangement with the Minister for Repatriation, but shortly afterwards he got a message calling it off. The Commonwealth Bank is going to carry out in Western Australia tie construction work which it sanctions. Thus there will be two separate building authorities, two staffs competing for the limited amount of building material available.

Mr Richard Foster - And for the limited amount of labour available.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Yes, and the Australian soldier will be faced with two sets of conditions, one better than the other. It is woeful that, after so many protests in this chamber, this lack of business cooperation should continue. I shall not vote for a duplication of effort by the Commonwealth where work is being carried out effectively by a State.

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