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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - It would appear from the arguments advanced by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that the clause as originally drafted was defective. The Government now considers that it is necessary to obtain a judicial decision in order that the law may be effective. In the meantime it is proposed to employ the powers which the bill provides for the issue of a certificate by the Auditor-General supported by a resolution of both Houses before proceeding to confiscate the revenue of a State, regardless of the' difficulties that may be created. It is now clear that a judicial decision is necessary in the final analysis. Notwithstanding what may he said to the contrary, I submit that no State representative would allow the Commonwealth to go to the bank with which his State did business, and confiscate the State's funds in that institution to satisfy a debt due by it to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister, when Premier of Tasmania, would not have supported an agreement giving the Commonwealth such extensive powers. There is a distinct difference between an individual and a State. Why should the rights of a State be protected hy its Constitution if they are similar to those of an individual? An individual's, obligations are confined to 'him only, but . the obligations of a

State concern the well-being of all the people resident in that State. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton. Groom) contends that the Crown must obey the law; but we have to consider whether the Crown is able to obey the law. That is an aspect of the matter that apparently has been overlooked during this discussion. We can pass a law, but its practical application should be considered, particularly when it involves the confiscation of .the funds of a State. When the Financial Agreement was entered into the conditions were entirely different from those which obtain to-day. An individual or a State has to decide the course intended to be adopted according to the circumstances at the time. The course adopted by the New South Wales Government, under the present circumstances, will be supported by a majority of the State electors. The easiest way in which to arouse the interest and attention of the people is to pass legislation which detrimentally affects their interests. At the moment New South Wales is in such a position that she cannot comply with a law such as this Government proposes to pass.

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