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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr NAIRN (Perth) .- Whilst I am anxious to see the business of Parliament proceeded with, the schedule submitted by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is so unreasonable that I shall not support his motion. The House has been informed that the Estimates must be passed promptly in order that Supply may be granted to His Majesty. A similar reason has been advanced on other occasions when action of this kind has been taken. Such motions are due to business not being brought before Parliament sufficiently early, and to the discussion not being proceeded with in a proper manner. During this session the difficulties which we have experienced on other occasions have been more marked. I shall not attempt to allocate the blame as between political parties, as that would only cause party bitterness. I point out, however, that although the Parliament has been in session for over nine weeks, very little work of value has been accomplished. For the greater part of that time we have been idling. A great deal of delay took place in connexion with the debate on the first item of the Estimates. As honorable members know, that debate is used largely for publicity purposes, and not for a close examination of the budget itself. In view of the greatly increased expenditure contemplated this year, a more complete examination of the Estimates than usual is called for. The proposed expenditure recalls the days of the Bruce-Page Ministry. As we are faced with a record expenditure on defence, I expected that there would have been a curtailment of expenditure in other directions. That is not so, however, for in every department increased expenditure is proposed. I complain that no proper opportunity is to be given for a thorough examination of the Estimates. Concerning many items honorable members are entitled to more information than is supplied in the papers submitted to us. No details are given as to the actual works to be undertaken at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Parliament does not know what is going on. I have had considerable experience in connexion with public works. I am a member of the Public Works Committee which recommended savings on public works amounting to over £100,000. The savings thus effected clearly indicate what may occur if departments are permitted to carry out work regardless of any check as to the manner in which the money is to be expended.

Mr SPEAKER - The time allowed for the debate on the motion has expired.

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