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Tuesday, 13 October 1931


Mr BAYLEY (Oxley) .- I desire to submit an amendment in accordance with the suggestion that I made during the debate on the second reading of the bill. I then referred to the great deal of duplication that takes place in connexion with the work of the Public Works Committee, particularly in 'relation to proposals for the installation of telephone exchanges. Section 15 of the principal act reads as follows: -

No public work of any kind whatsoever (except such works as have already been authorized by Parliament, or which are authorized during the present session, and except works for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth exempted by Order of Council from the operation of the act), the estimated cost of completing which exceeds twenty-five thousand pounds, and whether such work is a continuation, completion, repair, reconstruction, extension, or a new work, shall be commenced unless sanctioned as in this section provided.

I move -

That the following new clause be inserted: - 3a. Section fifteen of the principal act is amended -

(a)   by inserting in sub-section (1) after the word " except " the letter " (a) ",; and

(b)   by inserting in sub-section (1.) after the word "Act" the following words " and ( b ) works exempted by resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament from the operation of the act ".

If my proposal were agreed to the committee could be saved a great deal of unnecessary work.


Mr Gabb - But the committee wants work.


Mr BAYLEY - I am concerned not with what the Public Works Committee wants, but with what this committee wants. In my opinion the amendment is a commonsense proposal. It would obviate the necessity for referring to the committee such works as telephone exchanges, which are similar in all respects to proposed works previously investigated by the committee. Both Houses of the Parliament could declare by resolution that, as the plans and specifications for a particular work were identical with those of another work previously reported upon by the Public Works Committee, the work in question need not be referred to it. It might be argued that if this proposal were agreed to an unscrupulous government could use it for its own ends, butwe do not deal with unscrupulous governments in this Parliament. I have no fear that any government would use this provision for its own ends.


Mr Beasley - But what does the honorable member mean by " similar in all respects ". It would be difficult to find two works similar in all respects.


Mr BAYLEY - It is quite evident that the honorable member for West Sydney has not read many of the reports submitted to Parliament by the Public Works Committee.


Mr Beasley - But I know a good deal about telephone exchanges.


Mr BAYLEY - By "similar in all respects " I mean the same in the main details, such as, for instance, ventilation, dust prevention, the number of subscribers to be provided for, and the nature of the building to be constructed.


Mr Bell - The only difference that could arise would be with regard to suitability of site.


Mr BAYLEY - That is so; but if we have any confidence at all in our executive officers, and in the professional staff of the Public Works Department we should be able to trust them with such a matter. It may be taken for granted that at least one honorable member of the House would know something about any site that could be proposed for a telephone exchange or a post office. He would lodge a protest, declaring that, in his opinion, the site was not suitable for an exchange, and the House would demand a further investigation. I believe that the advantages to be gained by the adoption of the amendment would far outweigh any loss that might accrue.







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