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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - The life of this measure was determined after its provisions had been made public. The period was fixed in response to criticism from the States, particularly from Tasmania. The Attorney-General of that State declared that he would use all his power and authority to defeat the bill unless the period of its operation were limited.

Mr Lyons - He said that he would join forces with the honorable member's group.

Mr BEASLEY - His declaration was rendered so much the better by that. The Tasmanian Parliament unanimously carried the resolution protesting against the bill.

Mr Lyons - That was after it was stated that the period would be limited to two years.

Mr BEASLEY - That may be so, but the period was limited after the protests had been made in Tasmania and elsewhere. It was in response to those protests that the Prime Minister made a statement that the period would be limited to two years, and that before the expiration of that time the representatives of the State would have opportunity of meeting and reviewing the matter. The Premier of Tasmania, when objecting to the measure, merely voiced the feeling of the majority of the people of that State. He said that he was prepared to join with other objecting States to protest against the legislation. The idea seemed to be that his party hopes to change after the expiration of two years, the government in New South Wales, and the present Commonwealth Government does not desire the provisions of this measure to be used against a State Government of which it approves. But should the present Government be returned, the Commonwealth Government desires to have power to heap up obligations against it, so that it may be embarrassed for an indefinite period. By inserting the two years limitation, the Government has sought to placate those State Governments which are alleged to be meeting their obligations, but by this dragnet amendment it will still retain power to harass the New South Wales Government, even after the expiration of two years. If the Commonwealth Government has confidence in this measure, it should leave the period of two years unchanged. It should be competent to carry through what action it thinks necessary in that time. I shall vote against the amendment.

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