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Wednesday, 16 March 1927

Senator GUTHRIE -Bill knowing him as we do we know that they are honest.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL Exactly. I say that if one did not know the Prime Minister or if almost any one else had uttered them, one might say that this statement was pure hypocrisy. It might he said of any one acting in the "way the Prime Minister is acting and at the same time using the expression that he is anxious to bring about harmony, and has no desire to dictate to the States.

Just a word or two now in regard to the offer of the Government to hold a conference with the States. When? After the bill is passed; that is to say, after the Surplus Revenue Act has been repealed, and the States' share of the Commonwealth revenue is taken from them?

Such an offer to the States is an insult. Surely no self-respecting State Govern, ment would dream of accepting it. While the financial partnership exists between the Commonwealth and the States, if any proposal is brought forward by either partner to make a re-adjustment of the terms of the partnership, a conference between the parties would be the correct procedure. But for one partner to deliberately terminate the partnership, and then say to the other, " I will have a conference with you as to how you should conduct your own affairs," is surely pure impudence. That is the position at the present time. If there is one atom of sincerity in the expressed desire of the Government to promote harmony between the Commonwealth and the States, if there is no desire to do injustice to the States, or, to use the words of the Prime Minister, to dictate to them, then let the Government withdraw the bill and continue the per capita payments, pending the holding of a conference, or a special constitutional session such as we have heard of from time to time, at which the whole question of the financial relationship of the Commonwealth and the States can be considered. If the Government will do this, I will be prepared to believe in its protestations of goodwill to the States, but if it is not prepared to do so, then I say that no rightthinking man or woman, no one who is not a mere political hack or is not blinded by pure party prejudice, could possibly .believe in the protestations that are made.

The matter is now in the hands of the Senate, which exists for the very purpose of safeguarding and conserving the interests of the States. With what little power I possess, but with all the seriousness and earnestness that come from a full realization of the far-reaching importance of the provisions which are before us, I appeal to honorable senators to bring to bear on this matter some independence of thought.

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