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Tuesday, 30 May 1939

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) . - I move -

That paragraph e be omitted.

By a prior amendment, the provision made by paragraph e has been included in the initial part of sub-clause 1, in order that it might not be subject to the directions of the Governor-General. It has been pointed out that under the original draft of the measure the GovernorGeneral might not direct that arrangements for ascertaining costs, and for' the control and limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions, should be a matter to be administered by the department, and should not be subject to any direction. Under the clause as amended, the provision will be mandatory. We realize that even now a great deal will depend upon the bona fides of the Minister and the Department of Supply and Development in their endeavours to eliminate profiteering. We know that there are many ways in which unscrupulous persons may arrange their balance-sheets so as to hide profiteering. I sympathize with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who considers that profits may be hidden by the inclusion in the accounts of large amounts in respect of the fees of directors, and the salaries and expenses of executive officers. The Opposition, in drawing up its amendment, inserted the word " costs ", which it hoped would cover the point raised by the honorable member for Swan, and has asked the Government to see that the closest scrutiny is made of all of these matters with a view to avoiding the possibility of profiteering in the manner suggested by the honorable member. But I again emphasize that, notwithstanding anything we may do in this Parliament, if the Minister and the department are not extremely vigilant in watching this matter, profiteering will be practised. Parliament and the people will take the keenest interest in this matter, and if the Government and this new department be found recreant to the trust reposed in them, they will fully deserve the criticism they will receive in this chamber.

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