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Friday, 29 October 1920

Mr MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) . - We are in a peculiar position. I understand that what is required is more in the nature of arbitration than an inquiry, and it was suggested that the Public Works Committee should be the arbitrator. My opinion is that the members of that Committee arequite as competent to consider the matter as would be any other Committee appointed by the House, despite the fact that honorable members may be attacked individually.

Mr Gregory - Do not forget that the Committee has power to appoint assessors; I omitted to mention that fact.

Mr MATHEWS - Peculiar attacks are made on members of the Works Committee, but everybody is liable to that sort -of thing, and must pui. up with it. Personally, I am not hanky-ring after this job. The Works Committee already has plenty of work to do. Bui I do think that if the matter is not referred to the Public Works Committee it should be referred to the Public Accounts Committee. I can see no necessity for the appointment of a special Select Committee. If an inquiry into the whole question were desired, and there were any suggestion of something, shady in the transaction, a Boya! Commission should be appointed.

Mr Hughes - There is nothing of that at all.

Mr MATHEWS - I understand that the proposal is simply to appoint a Committee as arbitrator. If* the House does not think that the Public Works- Committee is competent to deal with the matter the inquiry should be intrusted to the Public Accounts Committee. If neither of those bodies is acceptable, Parliament should abolish both of them.

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