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Friday, 18 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - In moving

That this Bill be now read a second time,

I merely wish to observe that it is intended to rectify an anomaly which exists in our Public Works Committee Act, al- though when the measure was drafted that anomaly could not have been foreseen.

Senator Millen - Is not the Bill intended to meet an emergency rather than to correct an irregularity ?

Senator PEARCE - It is designed to correct an irregularity which has arisen, but which could not possibly have been foreseen. Section 15 of the Public Works Committee Act provides that works begun before the Committee were appointed should not be referred to it. Now, although the Act was passed in 1913, the Committee have only just been appointed. Consequently a number of works passed in the Estimates of 1913-14, and already begun, could not be referred to the Committee, as that Committee did not exist. The Committee now having been appointed it is proposed to refer to them the works which the Act says shall be referred to them, but it is not possible, without this Bill, to refer to them the works which have already been commenced.

Senator Millen - Does that mean that no works will be referred to the Committee in this calendar year?

Senator PEARCE - No; certain works have already been referred to them. Those are the Federal Capital Site and the buildings at the Westernport Naval Base, with the question of the water supply for that Base. The honorable senator will, perhaps, wonder why those matters did not come before us, but the Act provides that the resolutions shall be submitted only to the House of Representatives.

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