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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information) . - The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has worked himself into a fine frenzyin defence of the right of the Parliament to examine the estimates of public departments. He has protested vigorously and sophistically about the necessity for the government of the day to submit all estimates of every government department and all commissions to the Parliament for ratification. He proclaimed that it was the right of every honorable member to demand full information on the finances of the commission. I do not deny that it is the right of every honorable member to get any information he desires about the financial activities of any government department but there is the duty imposed upon honorable gentlemen to be in their places when these matters are submitted to the Parliament and to take an intelligent part in discussions on all reports submitted to the Parliament. There is usually a great desire on the part of many honorable members opposite to rush away from the Parliament or to attend very rarely. They negative their rights to discuss matters. I am addressing my criticism to honorable gentlemen opposite who claim their rights are being whittled away. Any honorable gentleman can place a question on the notice-paper.

Mr Spender - He will not be given an answer.

Mr CALWELL - He will be.

Mr SPender - No, he will not.

Mr CALWELL - This is the first time during the life of this Parliament that J have heard an honorable member say that he has been refused an answer to a question. It is competent for any member to move the adjournment of the House on any matter about which he thinks that the rights of honorable gentlemen are being abrogated or denied by the actions of the Executive. I like these protestations about the democratic institution that functions here by people who have not much regard for democracy.

Mr Falstein - It is .a .manifestation of the so-called independence pf the honorable member for- "Warringah (Mr. Spender).

Mr CALWELL - Yes, I accept the honorable member's suggestion.

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