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Thursday, 15 July 1926

Senator GRANT - Annually ?

Senator LYNCH - Yes, annually. As honorable senators -are aware, the yearly allowance for that committee is £2,000.. Spread over its nine members that sum represents about £200 a year for each in return Tor which its members in the course of their investigations travel throughout the Commonwealth at their own expense. I happen to be a member of that committee. It 'so happened . that I had the Mil backing of 'the Government for that post of honor, .and it can easily be gathered that I much appreciated it, although I could have secured the position without the Government's backing. But that, by the way. I have said that since its appointment the committee has inquired into a .great variety of public works proposals., and has saved the taxpayers of the Commonwealth hundreds of thousands of .pounds. In 1916, the programme of works referred to the committee for investigation and report totalled about £1,700,000. In 191'8,' it was £4a000,000; and m 1922, £7,'000,000. In 1924, it dropped back to £1,593,000. Spread over the thirteen or fourteen years that have elapsed .since the committee was appointed, the .average value of public works proposals investigated by it would fee a shade lover £1,000,000 a year. I submit that the committee is in a better position to advise the Government with regard to -public works to be carried out in connexion with their migration agreement than the members of the proposed Migration Commission will be. The Minister said just now that the Public Works

Committee was so fully occupied with other matters that it could not devote the time necessary for the thorough examination of public works contemplated under the migration agreement. Let us examine the position and see if what the Minister has said can be substantiated. The British Government proposes to advance to the Commonwealth £34,000,000 by way of loan spread over a period of ten years. The period might be longer but, for the purpose of my argument, we will say that the money is to be expended within ten years. That would be an average of about £3,000,000 a year. Let us assume that the whole of it is to be expended on works. We know that it will not be. The proposed loan includes provision for £1,000 being given to every migrant who settles upon the land.

The CHAIRMAN" (Senator Plain).The honorable senator's time has expired.

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