Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 1 May 1942

Mr PERKINS (Eden) (Monaro) . - I have previously spoken, in appeal rather than in protest, against the proposed establishment of abattoirs at Canberra. In answer to a question that I asked yesterday, I was informed by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that the construction of these abattoirs was approved by the Public Works Committee. That body, however, recommended an expenditure of only £35,000, and by a bare majority of its members. Since then, much water has run under the bridge. The financial position of Australia has completely altered. It seems to me almost a sin that, at a time like the present, the Government should provide so much money for the erection of these works. I know that some persons believe that my opposition to them is dictated by the fact that there are abattoirs in my electorate. If the history of the matter be studied, it wilL be found that I was opposed to the construction of these works when I was Minister for the Interior, and that abattoirs had not then been established in Nimmitabel. This would have been a waste of public money when circumstances were much better than they are to-day. The Treasurer informed me yesterday that the amount of the lowest tender was approximately £43,000. That tenderer has not been signed up, and it is now proposed to accept an even higher tender. If that be done, it will be a public scandal. In my electorate, and I dare say in other electorates, there are many persons who have been very hard hit by the building regulations of the Government. I can call to mind a number of men who sought authority to expend a few hundred pounds in order that they might be enabled to carry on their businesses, and the right to do so was denied to them. Yet, in Canberra, the Government proposes to erect works of this description, which can be made a success only if they supply meat to outside areas. They will have to go to Queanbeyan to sell meat; yet, because of certain regulations, Queanbeyan is not entitled to return the compliment by selling its meat in Canberra. At a period when the people are heavily burdened with almost unbearable taxation, and the Government stresses the necessity for an all-in war effort, it is proposed to expend over £40,000 in the construction of works that are absolutely unnecessary, merely to suit the whim of some departmental officials. When the matter came before the Public Works Committee, the estimated cost was given at £55,000. The committee would not listen to a proposal for the expenditure of such an amount and wrote it down to £35,000. If the Minister has the power to override its recommendation, what is the use of having the committee inform this House that it considers that £35,000 should be the limit of expenditure ? By ignoring its report, and expending a considerably greater sum than it recommended, the Government is making a laughing stock of the committee. I doubt whether such an expenditure as is proposed would receive the approval of the AuditorGeneral. I opposed the building of abattoirs for Canberra because I regarded the project as unnecessary. There is a serious lack of hotels and housing accommodation in this capital city, and I find it hard to understand why the Treasurer is prepared to expend over £40,000 on the erection of abattoirs that are totally unnecessary when he is also assuring the people that all money that can be secured is necessary for the successful prosecution of the war.

Suggest corrections