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Friday, 18 June 1915

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- I am sorry the honorable senator did not give me some intimation that he intended to bring the matter up. Had he done so, I should have had the papers with me, and my answers would have been quite accurate, according to the details appearing in them. If he is satisfied to accept from me a straight-forward statement of what really occurred, I can tell him that the Commission was not constituted entirely by the Federal Parliament. It included the representatives of certain States which had agreed to be represented at the Exposition. A certain sum was placed at the disposal of the Commission, and the Commission had full control of its disbursement to meet expenses. Mr. Nielsen was certainly allowed expenses for his visit to Washington. I am not going to discuss whether they were high or low. They were paid by the Commission, which, I understand, agreed upon a certain sum as an allowance for its members when doing the Commission's business.

Senator Stewart - The Commonwealth will pay its share of that?

Senator GARDINER - Yes. The Commonwealth's share will appear in the £12,000. The Commonwealth did not pay the whole of Mr. Nielsen's expenses. No one unacquainted with the cost of living and other conditions at Washington can say whether the sum he was paid was or was not a fair amount. I would not defend any Commissioner if he made unfair charges, but as an Australian I insist that our representatives at Washington or elsewhere shall take the position to which the representatives of this country are entitled. If Mr. Nielsen charged more than we anticipated, or more than it would cost me to go anywhere, that is altogether beside the question. The honorable senator will see that this is a matter in which certain States are also interested. I do -not think he wants me at this stage to go' into the unfortunate circumstances that led to the resignation of certain Commissioners. The EstimatesinChief will be before us next week, and I hope that then an ample opportunity will be afforded to .deal with the whole matter.

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