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Wednesday, 28 July 1920


Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- Honorable members who have opposed the amendment have put forward two mutually destructive argument.?. The

Minister (Mr. Greene) has explained that the amendment is unnecessary, because the salary must appear upon the Estimates, and be subject to parliamentary approval. On the other hand the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) say that the amendment would hamper .the Government in their choice of a suitable man, because a likely appointee might fear that Parliament would refuse to indorse any contract the Government made with him. I fail to see why it should be impossible for Ministers to successfully negotiate with a competent man provided that Parliament allowed sufficient latitude in regard to salary, as I have no doubt Parliament would. The salaries of the High Court Judges are fixed by Act of Parliament; they are not left to the judgment of the Executive. Whilst in ordinary circumstances I would be prepared to yield to the request of the Minister that the amendment be not pressed, yet in the light of recent experience and my general knowledge of the manner in which the Executive have absolutely ignored Parliament in regard to the expenditure of public moneys, I am not prepared to do that. I am not unmindful of the. fact that as late as the 7th July the Government, without reference to Parliament, issued a regulation under the War Precautions Act enabling them to pay out of the consolidated revenue losses incurred in the running of ships along the coast under requisition, some of those losses being probably due to the ships having been held up while the seamen's strike was in progress. In view of the fact that the Government are prepared to legislate by Executive minute, and to directly charge upon the people the expenses attendant upon such legislation, while large profits are being made by the shipping companies trading along the coast, and in view of our general knowledge of the manner in which the Executive have abused their powers in connexion with the expenditure of public funds, it is high time that we applied a stricter rule and carried out the pledges we made to our constituents to restore to Parliament the control of the public expenditure.







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