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Friday, 18 December 1914

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - As one of the members of the Public Works Committee I can assure the Senate that this is a necessary measure. The circumstances have arisen through the terms of the Act under which the Committee was appointed. It provides that work exceeding £25,000 in value must be referred to the Committee for report. It was recognised that, owing to the suspension of the sittings of Parliament until April, those works might not be proceeded with, and that there was a certain amount of unemployment which should be minimized by the Government wherever reasonably practicable. It has been proposed by members of the Committee, as well as by the Government, that the mere fact that we have passed a

Bill to provide that no works exceeding £25,000 in value shall be proceeded with without the authorization of the Public Works Committee should not militate against the chance of minimizing unemployment. The Prime Minister has taken the Committee into his confidence regarding certain works, and asked the Committee to inform him what works they deem necessary to be more fully considered by them. Those are being formally remitted to the Committee by resolution by the House of Representatives. The original Bill requires that those works shall be so remitted, but the intention of this Bill is to provide that there shall be no interruption of public works development on account of the Christmas vacation, except in relation to works which the Committee have already indicated as properly remittable to them. The Bill is the outcome of a consultation between the Prime Minister and the Committee. It is well within the purpose which both parties wish to achieve, and the Senate will run no risk in passing it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.

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