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Wednesday, 2 June 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Home and Territories) .- I move-

That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its staged without delay.

In order to explain the urgency of this measure, and the need for the motion which I have moved, I remind honorable senators that, within the last few days, the Commonwealth has lost the services of a valued public servant, in the person of Mr. J. W. Israel, the late AuditorGeneral. During his illness, the Government, under the provisions of the Audit Act, appointed Mr. C. J. Cerutty as Acting Auditor-General; but, under the terms of the act there is, on the death of the Auditor-General, no power to appoint an acting Auditor-General. Such an appointment can only be made during the life of the person holding the office of Auditor-General. The Government could, of course, appoint another Auditor-General, but here a serious difficulty arises. The Audit Act provides that the AuditorGeneral shall be appointed for life. The Government deems it desirable - and I think honorable senators will agree - that a retiring age for the position should be fixed. If we appoint an Auditor-General under the present act, he will be appointed for life; no subsequent amendment of the act could rightly take the appointment from him. The appointment of an Auditor-General is urgently necessary, because there are many matters requiring the immediate attention of the person authorized to deal with them as Auditor-General under the Audit Act.

It is essential that not a day should be lost in making the necessary amendment of the existing law. I do not propose, at this stage, to deal with the bill itself. I wish only to show the urgency of this measure, and the need for suspending the Standing and Sessional Orders on this occasion. When moving the second reading of the bill I shall explain its two provisions.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the matter so urgent that it cannot wait until tomorrow ?

Senator PEARCE - There are certain forms to be complied with before this bill can become operative. To obtain assent to it may take' a day or two. It is not desirable that there should be any longer interval than is necessary.

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