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Wednesday, 4 May 1932

Mr ROSEVEAR - I am not dealing with supposition. Some weeks ago deposits lodged by contractors with the State Government in New South Wales as a guarantee of good faith were seized by the Commonwealth, and up to date the Federal Treasurer has not ascertained whether those deposits belong to the State Government. Probably some months will elapse before that information is obtained. In the meantime, the contractor is faced with a temporary loss of deposits that should have been returned to him immediately his contract with the State Government was completed. It is doubtful whether the Commonwealth is legally entitled to hold such deposits.

Mr Lane - The honorable member would make a good lawyer.

Mr ROSEVEAR - The honorable member makes a bad politician. The Prime Minister is not dealing fairly with contractors who have lodged deposits with the State Government. The supporters of the Government have referred a good deal to our solemn obligation to carry out certain contracts. There is a solemn obligation on the part of the State Government to refund deposits lodged with it by contractors, but it is not able to carry out that obligation because the Commonwealth Government has seized those deposits, and they will not be recoverable until such time as the Federal Treasurer ascertains whether the contractor is entitled to them, and even then only at the discretion of the Treasurer. When the previous legislation was being discussed, Government supporters were lulled into a sense of false security by the assurance of the Prime Minister that such things as the wrongful seizure of deposits lodged by contractors with the State Government would not happen. These things have happened, and it is for the Government supporters to ensure that they will not happen in the future.

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