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Tuesday, 30 May 1939

Mr McHUGH (Wakefield) .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). One million pounds' was recently , expended in modernization of the Islington workshops in South Australia. I do not know whether other States are similarly placed, but all of the work necessary for the £30,000,000 worth of railways in South Australia is able to be performed in those workshops. The Premier of the South Australian Government, which is of the same political construction as this Government, has definitely stated that all work that can be done at Islington shall be done there.

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I remind the honorable gentleman there is only one issue before the Chair, the compulsory acquisition of land.

Mr McHUGH - I should have thought that the Government would not have needed to be convinced of the need to protect public assets. The Assistant Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Holt) has said that the power to acquire land is contained in other legislation, but the Opposition believes that this bill itself should protect the people from a loss of assets as the . result, perhaps, of the insolvency of a company on whose land an annexe is built.

Mr Holt - It. was explained earlier to-day that the buildings will be erected on land leased by the ' Government and that they will be government property and, therefore,unattachable.

Mr Brennan - But it is not stated in the bill.

Mr McHUGH - We want it in the bill.

Mr Holt - We have made it clear by Government statements.

Mr Forde - Within a year a statementwill have been forgotten.

Mr HOLt - But the leases will still be in existence.

Mr McHUGH - We are not satisfied. We want a. definite provision in the bill. It may be all right for a year or two to have government assets on private land, but as time passes legal difficulties may arise.

Mr HOLt - The contracts are for a ten-year period.

Mr McHUGH - Ten years is a short time in the history of this country, and . the nation should own the land on which its assets are situated. I do not rise '. to speak very often, but 1 am impelled to speak on this occasion because I believe that a principle is involved. One of our duties in this House is to ensure that the assets of the country ure not impaired. We are anxious that the Government should make it quite clear in this bill that the land upon which these annexes are to stand shall be purchased by the Commonwealth. Let us assume that the defence building programme continues for three or four years, and then this mad world turns from war to peace. There will then be no more need for defence measures of this kind, and it is possible that the annexe factories will be allowed to fall into disrepair, and be eventually sold at a loss to the manufacturers by whom they have been run.

Mr Holt - The contracts stipulate that the .properties shall be effectively maintained for the period of the lease, which is ten years.

Mr McHUGH - All of those conditions should be contained in the bill.

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