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Wednesday, 26 April 1961

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) - by leaveLeave was granted to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to make his statement following a question that I asked him without notice earlier to-day. The Treasurer's statement does not answer my question. I asked the Treasurer what authority the Commonwealth Statistician had for announcing that he had ceased to issue the C series index. This is an important administrative and constitutional matter. In accordance with arrangements made between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments under section 5 of the Statistics (Arrangements with States) Act it has been the practice for the Commonwealth Statistician to collect and publish statistics required by the New South Wales Government. 1 do not propose to make any reference to the validity of the index and the propriety of Mr. Carver's action. What I do seek is an assurance that a change in the procedure will not be so suddenly and unilaterally made in the future.

Mr Harold Holt - Mr. Carver has already pointed out in the statement that he is supplying the information which has been requested of him.

Mr WHITLAM - That is so. It is true that this information will now be supplied, but I think a very important principle was breached last Thursday. The first pay period next month is the one when the New South Wales aribitration authorities are required, under a New South Wales statute, to take into account the movements in this index, and last Thursday the Statistician announced that he had ceased to issue the index. The difficulty of New South Wales, or in fact any State with which the Commonwealth has made statistical arrangements is that the State statistical officers and machinery have been absorbed by the Commonwealth, with the consent of the State. The cessation of statistics could put any State in an intolerable situation. In this case there was a statutory requirement that the State's tribunals and officers have to follow. They would have been unable to follow that requirement or obey the law in their State because the Commonwealth had ceased to carry out the arrangement. I therefore hope that the Treasurer will be able to clarify this situation and give an assurance that in future the State governments will continue to receive from the Commonwealth Statistician any statistics which they seek from him, in accordance with the arrangements which have been made between the Commonwealth and the States.

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