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Wednesday, 20 July 1921

Senator EARLE - That was made with nearly 400,000 of our men at the Front

Senator FAIRBAIRN - Yes. When we compare those figures with Great Britain, where enormous profits were made, and something like £300,000,000 was received by the Government in the shape of excess profits taxation, I do not think we had very much to complain of in that direction during the war.

Senator Rowell - Most of that was made out of two lines of business.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - Yes, particularly shipping, and the people of Australia had to pay a good deal of it. There was not much profiteering done by local people, but a great deal was done by outside people who shipped goods to, us, as Senator Pratten has already pointed out

This Bill was dealt with in another place by a tired House; but we are fresh and well, and able to look into it properly. Honorable senators, I am sure, have a fellow-feeling for other members of Parliament, and. I - am dreading what is going to happen - to members when they go before their constituents at the end of next year. The average elector, Who is fairly intelligent, when you get before him, will ask very pertinent, and possibly impertinent, questions. He will want to know what members have done to curtail expenditure. Members will reply, " We have appointed numbers of Boards, and have carried on with a free sail, and done splendidly. Look how our expenditure has gone up." But I am afraid that sort of answer will not satisfy the electors. Without doubt, people are absolutely alarmed at the way expenditure has risen, and ^continues to rise. Our responsibility is to the electors, and we must consider how we are going to face them. We must have something better to put before them than what we have done. 'We shall have to show the electors, if we desire to be returned, that we have made an honest attempt to curtail expenditure. I am afraid the continual increasing of Departments and the appointment of additional Boards will do the Public Service a great harm, because at present it is becoming top heavy, and the appointment of additional public servants will eventually be. to their detriment. I have lodged my protest, and I feel sure that nothing could undermine the position of the Government more than following the practice of appointing Boards to do the work which should be performed in Government Departments.

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