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Thursday, 12 August 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I have no knowledge of the statement made by the honorable senator. This, is the first time I have heard that the Federal Capital Commission was warned by the chairman of the Public Works Committee, that the calling of contracts for the erection of the cottages mentioned was in contravention of the Public Works Committee Act. On the other hand a statement was made that Mr. Daley, the secretary to the commission, saw Mr. Gregory, who was then chairman of .the Public Works Committee, and asked him whether he thought that the works referred to came within the purview of the Public Works Committee, and that Mr. Gregory informed him that he did not think they did. I understand that a similar statement was made to Mr. Daley by the secretary to the Public Works Committee.

Senator Needham - I think if the Minister will make further inquiries, he will find that what I have said is correct.

Senator PEARCE - At all events that has not been brought under my notice. Much later, when the new committee was appointed, and when Mr. Mackay became its chairman, he wrote to the department of Home and Territories, stating that in the opinion of the committee the action of the Federal Capital Commission in calling for the tenders was an infraction of the Public Works Committee Act. That was the first official communication that I received on the subject. It reached me some time after an announcement had been made in the press that the contracts had been let. Upon receipt of that letter I issued instructions that it should be sent on to the Crown Solicitor for opinion. I am told that Mr. Daley did see Mr. Gregory the previous chairman of the Public Works Committee, and also the secretary, and was advised that the contracts did not come within the purview of the committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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