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Wednesday, 17 February 1932

With reference to your telephone inquiry of to-day relative to the cost of remitting money to New York, I would point out that taking the exchange rate as 3.40 dollars to the £1 it costa £143 in London to place £100 in New York.

This £143 must be remitted to London from Australia, and at a rate of approximately 25 per cent, would cost, say, £36.

Xt will be seen, therefore, that the cost of remitting £100 from Australia to New York is approximately £179 - £79 being in respect for exchange.

It is in such circumstances that Germany has said that she cannot and will not pay her debts. All the European nations are thinking about refusing to pay their war debts. I ask whether it is right, when Australia, is willing to pay her way, that she must send abroad £79 as exchange for every £100 of principal and interest in respect of her indebtedness? If the people of this country were asked to reply with a plain " ye3 " or " no " to the question, whether they are willing to do this, I am sure that they would say no. I trust that this Government will find some way of placing all debts upon a different footing from the indebtedness incurred in respect of ordinary trade and commerce. I hope that some agreement will be made which will lift the burden of this terrible interest charge from the shoulders of the people. I shall watch the Government very carefully. Although I cannot hope to point my finger at any member so gracefully as- the Clerk of the House has done it to-day, I shall nevertheless watch the Government, and hope that it will find some means of removing this terrible burden.

I hope that I shall live to see Australia, the land that I love, and which I believe honorable members opposite love as well as I do, become a real democracy. I trust that this Parliament will come under the control of the people. At present the people have control on only one day in three years. I say with all reverence, as though in the presence of my Maker, that if God be God, He would never create anything His equal and never allow any created thing to make itself His equal. Why, then, I ask, as a representative of the people, should those who create this Parliament control it on only one day in three years? They should control it every day. Why should Ave be able to make ourselves more powerful than they? That is why, for 42 years, I have given my constituents the right of recall. I hope that some day the system will be made general. Then no longer will so many vile and wicked happenings, with their associated fraud, misery and trickery, be countenanced. -Jobbery occurred even in connexion with the building of this Capital. It fell to the lot of a member of the Labour party, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. .Riley), to make the exposure that certain contractors had fraudulently withheld 600 tons of cement from the foundations of a Government building in Canberra, the cost of which was estimated to be about £1,000,000. Yet no one was sacked or even censured. I know that had the Scullin Government been in charge of affairs the delinquents would have been dealt with. That great genius, Walter Burley Griffin, prepared the design for a beautiful permanent Parliament House, which was to cost £250,000, and provided a room for every member of Parliament, whether of the Senate or the House of Representatives. Through the machinations of certain departmental heads that great man was set aside and his design superseded. In place of that beautiful permanent building we have this temporary Parliament House, which was estimated to cost £230,000, but which has cost £760,000 of the people's money. If any honorable member doubts the accuracy of my statement I refer him to the report of the inquiry that was made into the matter by the then Leader of the New South Wales Bar, Mr. Wilfred Blacket, K.C., which shows clearly how vilely Walter Burley Griffin was treated. And no one was censured. The roof of this building would not keep out the rain, and, when I drew attention to that fact 80 tons of gravel was placed upon it in a vain endeavour to rectify the fault. If a committee could be appointed with power to obtain full information before the available informants disappear or die, very severe punishment would be meted out to those responsible. I had intended speaking of this matter when the Speaker of the last Parliament was elected, but my chief dissuaded me. That I have regretted ever since.

I urge all young members of Parliament, who may feel that they are trammelled by our rules of debate to take advantage of the happy opportunity that is afforded to them on an occasion such as the present and give utterance to what their conscience prompts them to speak.

Members of the House then unanimously calling Mr. Mackay to the Chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. M. Cameron and Mr. Nairn and conducted to the Chair. "

Then Mr. SPEAKER ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - I desire to express my keen appreciation of the great honour which honorable members have conferred upon me. I realize the responsibility that is mine in assuming the duties of the office, following as I do so many who have occupied the Chair with distinction, and I feel that I can be successful only if I have the full support of honorable members, whose goodwill I shall endeavour to deserve by the exercise of tact, courtesy and strict impartiality. Honorable members who may think that the Standing Orders are too rigid have the remedy in their own hands. In return for the efforts that I shall make to carry out my duties satisfactorily, I shall expect from all honorable members strict obedience to my rulings and decisions. It is my intention to endeavour to uphold the best traditions of parliamentary procedure, and to apply common sense to the interpretation of the Standing Orders.

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