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Tuesday, 13 October 1931

Mr BAYLEY (Oxley) . - I cannot support the amendment. The Public Works Committee has given excellent service to the people. One of the first inquiries undertaken by the original Public Works Committee related to the construction of a dam on the Molonglo River in connexion with the development of the lakes scheme for the Federal Capital. The Government of the day proposed to carry out that work which had been endorsed by departmental officers, and was estimated to cost £100,000. The Public Works Committee reported against the project, and Parliament accepted its recommendation, thus saving £100,000 to the public treasury. I could mention many instances of savings amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds effected by both the Public Works and the Public Accounts Committees. There is, however, scope for economy in connexion with the activities of the former body. Much of the work it does is of a routine nature. I refer particularly to the inquiries into proposals for the construction of automatic telephone exchanges. I can see no justification for the committee visiting South Brisbane to inquire whether the plans and specifications drawn up by the experts of the Postal and Works Departments are correct, and three months later journeying to Perth to conduct an almost identical inquiry there.

Mr Archdale Parkhill - That shows how farcical the proceedings are.

Mr BAYLEY - The proceedings are not farcical, but I believe that money could be saved by eliminating inquiries into repetitive works such as the construction of telephone exchanges. Individual original works proposals should be investigated. The act wisely provides that no work estimated to cost more than £25,000 shall be undertaken until it has been inquired into and reported upon by the Public Works Committee, but if some safeguard could be inserted in the act to obviate the need for the committee to visit various States or various centres within one State to report on automatic telephone exchanges a considerable economy could be effected.

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