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Friday, 19 May 1939

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - Although I do not wish to 'inconvenience the Minister (Sir Frederick Stewart), or hold up this proposal, I suggest that the Minister agree to the adjournment of this debate in order to give the Public Works Committee an opportunity to reply to some of the extraordinary statements which have been made by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron).

Mr Archie Cameron - I am only too pleased to substantiate fully what I have just said.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honor able member cannot do so in this debate.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I am a member of the Public Works Committee. I did not visit Darwin with my colleagues when they inquired into this proposal, but I have studied the evidence which they took at that centre, and I am perfectly satisfied that every one in Darwin who is in any way interested in the construction of a modern hospital there will approve of the proposal finally recommended by the committee. That committee heard evidence from local medical doctors.

Mr Blain - They did not do that: that is the trouble.

Mr Frost - The committee heard evidence from local doctors.

Mr HOLLOWAY - A perusal of the minutes of proceedings of the committee will show that it, discussed this matter with local doctors. Indeed, the committee would have displayed incompetence if it had not called for evidence from local medical men. It discussed every aspect of hospitalization with these witnesses, including the best layout for a hospital, its size in, relation to local needs, the movements of population locally,- and the present and potential hospital requirements of Darwin. Every witness who appeared before the committee in Darwin was perfectly satisfied with the proposal finally decided upon by the committee. I participated in the committee's deliberations on its return to Canberra when it gave further consideration to this proposal. Members of the committee are not afraid of criticism, but I suggest that, before any honorable member attempts to find fault with . its recommendations, he should be able to back up his criticism. Only just a fewminutes ago the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) stated that the committee had not called evidence from local medical doctors, whereas such evidence was heard by the committee. Surely it must be obvious to the honorable member that the committee could not properly consider this proposal without consulting local medical opinion. Before the honorable member for the Northern Territory, or any other honorable member, makes any statements of that kind he should be in possession of the facts.

Mr Blain - I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker; I know my facts.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member has not raised a point of order.

Mr HOLLOWAY - Although, as I said, I did not accompany the committee to Darwin, I arn convinced, after perusing all of the evidence taken in that centre, that every one interested in this proposal agrees with the recommendation of the committee. Its report, of course, does not contain all of the evidence taken, because the cost of printing it would not have been justified. However, such evidence is available for perusal by any honorable member. Honorable members generally will agree that the committee acted wisely in confining its inquiry to a hospital which would more than meet Darwin's requirements for the next ten years. Indeed, within a decade, the whole technique of hospital construction might undergo an entire change. The committee, therefore, acted rightly in recommending a structure which, while meeting present needs, would allow of expansion to cope with any likely increase of population in Darwin over the next ten years. I hope that the motion will be carried and that the proposal will be gone on with forthwith, because the people of Darwin urgently need greater hospital facilities.

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