Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr CURTIN (Fremantle) .- Whatever has happened in this Parliament prior to the submission of this motion has happened with the acquiescence and entire agreement of the Government, which at all times has been in a position to control the deliberations of this House, equally as it is in a position to control the amount of time which should be allocated for the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, lt appears to me that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has tacitly acquiesced in the general debate on the first item of the Estimates being prolonged with the sole desire so to use the time as to leave inadequate time for any detailed consideration by the committee of the actual departmental expenditure. Although the honorable gentleman was warned that this would be the case, he repeatedly allowed the debate to be interrupted in such a way-

Mr Casey - Warned, by whom?

Mr CURTIN - By myself.

Mr Casey - Warned?

Mr CURTIN - I repeat that the honorable gentleman was warned of the inevitable consequences of repeated interruptions of the general debate. . These interruptions were permitted to take place so frequently as to preclude any opportunity for proper examination of the details of the Estimates. I objected to the bringing down of legislation consequential to the budget in advance of the conclusion of the general budget debate; but the Treasurer regards the budget as so much chicken feed-

Mr Casey - Nonsense!

Mr CURTIN - He regards Parliament purely as a registration bureau for his own department and his own wishes.

Mr Casey - The honorable gentleman knows that that is nonsense.

Mr CURTIN - This schedule is conclusive testimony of the unwillingness of the Treasurer to allow the committee any time at all to examine the details of the largest budget ever submitted to this Parliament since federation was established. We are to have an hour-and-a-quarter to deal with the Prime Minister's Department, which has grown out of all proportion to what it used to be, and with the Department of External Affairs whose Minister is not here to explain items contained in his departmental estimates. We are to be given 30 minutes to deal with the Department of the Treasury in respect of which there is also the largest administrative expenditure since the inception of federation - in spite of the fact that a new sub-department has been added to the Treasury, which is already in a state of absolute chaos.

M r. Casey. - Nonsense !

Mr CURTIN - I understand that the Treasurer has found it necessary already to defer the application of one piece of legislation associated with his department.

Mr Casey - The Leader of the Opposition has been away too long; he has losttouch with affairs.

Mr CURTIN - I know that this time table can only be described as indicative of the utter contempt of the Government for the Parliament and for the rights of the committee to deal with the details of governmental expenditure. Whatever has happened before, it means that now we have come to actual grips with the details we are not to be permitted to deal with them. He likes to deal with broad generalities in which he covers up what I venture to say is a waste, not of time, which may be a venial offence, but of public money which, I suggest, is a major calamity, having regard to the fact that this country is indulging in the greatest expenditure on record since this Commonwealth has been a. Commonwealth. We are asked to sit here until 1 o'clock tomorrow morning to deal with department after department.

Mr Scullin - It is scandalous.

Mr CURTIN - That is so. With the limitation df time only three or four members of the committee will have an opportunity to discuss the Estimates of any one department. That is a complete stultification of the rights of honorable members who have been elected to this House as representatives of large electorates. To think that the discussion of any one of these departments is to be limited to such a degree as to permit of only a few members to speak for a quarter of an hour each - the Treasurer is to be given 30 minutes - is nothing short of scandalous.

Suggest corrections