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Tuesday, 13 October 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) . - I am inclined to accept the amendment, but there is one point which, I think, should be clearly understood. Honorable members should remember that the provision requiring all works estimated to cost £25,000 to be submitted to the Public Works Committee for inquiry and report, was inserted as a protection against a government that might be disposed to push on with a heavy programme of expenditure on public works. The fact that the amendment requires a resolution to be passed by both Houses before any works proposal can be exempted from the provisions of the act commends it to me. At present works proposals may be referred to the committee by a resolution of this House, and the amendment provides that any project can only be exempted from the act by resolution of both Houses. It may be urged that the amendment would enable Parliament to. prevent time being wasted upon art, inquiry which would be merely a duplication of a previous inquiry into works of a similar nature.

Mr Coleman - It would also stop criticism.

Mr SCULLIN - On the other hand, it might be urged that the amendment would enable a government with a majority in both Houses to exempt every works proposal regardless of its probable cost, from an examination by the Public Works Committee.

Mr M CAMERON (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It would nullify the act.

Mr SCULLIN - I do not think it would do that, especially in the light of this discussion. The purpose of the amendment is not to prevent the Public Works Committee from inquiring into projected works, but to give Parliament power to exempt from the operation of the act any work, an inquiry into which in the opinion of Parliament, would merely be a duplication of work already done. If this is clearly understood it is not probable that any government would submit a motion to both Houses to exempt any particular work. I think the amendment safeguards the position, and the Government is prepared to accept it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

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