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Tuesday, 30 May 1939

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- When I was speaking on another amendment the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) indicated his intention to move this amendment. Its terms are wide, but it is directed mainly towards the annexes to be erected by the Government. We all know that the Commonwealth Government has the power to acquire land for postal and all other public purposes, but the point is that, under this measure, the Government proposes to erect, on privately-owned land, buildings alongside other buildings in which private enterprises are carried on. The term of this legislation is to be five years. What will happen at. the expiration of that period? I venture the opinion that this Government will follow the lead given by similar governments of the past, both Commonwealth and State, and give its property away unless it is prevented from doing so by the incorporation in this bill of a provision for the Commonwealth to acquire the land on which the defence annexes are erected. It is my honest opinion that the omission to include such a provision in this legislation is due to the fact that in the mind of the Government is the intention to hand over to private enterprise in five years' time all of the. buildings and plant that it is proposed now to put in its care. The fact that there is no contrary provision in the law will be seized upon as an excuse for that to be done. Two- thirds of the war scare and the frenzied manufacture of munitions is due to the desire of the

Government to distribute to its friends dividends, in this case taking the shape of Commonwealth property, in return for their support. We have been told that the men at the head of the companies to which these annexes are to be entrusted are patriotic, and that they do not seek unduly to profit from undertaking the manufacture of munitions on behalf of the Government. I am not a land-owner, but if I were assured that I should be allowed to partake of this work on conditions exactly the same as that on which the existing contractors will work, I should immediately purchase land for the Government to erect a factory on it. I should have no difficulty in raising the necessary finance, and I warrant that I should be able to make a very good profit. The Assistant Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Holt) has assured the committee that the safeguard which the honorable, member for Batman seeks to have placed in the bill will be contained in the contracts between the Government and the companies which undertake the work, but I shall not be satisfied with that, because nobody can satisfy me that this Government is any different from similarly constituted governments of the past, which, contracts notwithstanding, have never hesitated to give to their friends undertakings owned by the people. That belief will be verified at the end of the five-year period of this legislation, unless the land on which the annexes are erected "is acquired in pursuit of a definite provision of this bill. Nothing else will satisfy the Opposition, because governments of the same kidney as this Government have been tainted by their anxiety to reward their supporters by trie gift of public funds and other properties.

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