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Thursday, 11 July 1946


Mr HARRISON (Wentworth) . - I have not so far "entered the lists" in this debate. I do so .at this juncture because I consider that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has not grasped the true significance of the argument of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). That is quite understandable, because the honorable member for Fremantle is new to. this . chamber. Because of his political ignorance and inexperience, he would not understand fully- why it is necessary for this chamber to retain control of the public purse, when it is considering the estimates of revenue and expenditure. It is true that he was elected to this. Parliament during a period of war, when it was necessary for war expenditure to be appropriated in a lump sum. The honorable member for Warringah has pointed out that we are now back to the days of peace, and on that account must observe the procedure that was followed in- this Parliament before the outbreak of hostilities. This chamber should once again assert its. right to, control the public.purse. That argument is germane to the clause, which makes it clear that the commission shall prepare estimates, in such a . form as the Minister directs, of its receipts and expenditure for each financial year, and shall submit those estimates to the Minister. That is as far as the clause goes. But, as the honorable member for. Warringah pointed out, the committee wants to have details of those estimates. If these are not provided, the expenditure is likely to be ' shrouded in complete mystery, arid this Parliament will not have such information of the trading transactions of the commission ' as will satisfy it that the money is being expended * wisely' and efficiently. Surely there is nothing in that argument which warrants the generation of heat in the debate! Honorable members who sit on this side of the chamber wish to ensure that it will once again have control of the public purse. At the moment, that control reposes in the hands of the Minister. Whilst we hold the honorable gentleman in high regard, we know what use he made of funds provided for post-war education during the last referendum campaign. We wish to ensure that when estimates of receipts and expenditure are submitted, they will be such as will warrant the approval of this Parliament. That is all the honorable member for Warringah seeks. The honorable member for Fremantle does not understand the subtleties of the situation, and we excuse him on that account; but there can be no excuse for the Minister, who knows that this is a time when control "of the public purse should repose in the hands of the members of this committee. I ask the honorable gentleman to give consideration to the representations of the honorable member for Warringah.







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