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Friday, 11 November 1927
Page: 1351


Senator VERRAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - I must admit that I have always understood that the evidence taken before royal commissions and other bodies of a similar nature would be forthcoming with the report. In some unaccountable way, . however, this report is presented without the evidence. I do not say that any one would read the evidence as light literature - I do not think they would, but I do say that the general practice is for the evidence to accompany the report so that honorable members who feel inclined may study it. In the present case, I would certainly not suggest that the committee, after giving its word that it would treat as confidential the evidence of certain men, should now make that evidence public. I would not be one to hold up my hand and vote that the confidence placed in the committee should be broken. I have seen many slippery amendments like that of Senator Duncan placed before Parliament. There are some people who see light through a small hole. Senator Duncan has always reminded me, firstly of a cheer-up society, and in the second place of a man who would slip in with a dirty thing in a nice way. There is about this amendment something of the subtlety that was in the devil when he entered the Garden of Eden to confront Adam and Eve. It is unwise for a committee to give an express undertaking to anybody that it will treat information confidentially. I do not accuse the members of the committee of any bad motive ; they wanted to get the strongest and best evidence they could. We all make mistakes ; my friend Senator Duncan, nearly perfect as he is, will only become more perfect through his mistakes, or through his suffering, but I hope that in the future no such undertaking of secrecy will be given. I do not want to give a vote without saying that I cannot, for one moment, support the amendment. As soon as Senator Duncan moved the amendment I saw that we had entered into the realms of a mighty discussion designed simply to keep back the motion. I am sure my friend will not for a moment deny that that was his motive. I have seen many things of this kind during the past eighteen years, and will cast my vote against the amendment.


The PRESIDENT - To overcome the difficulty of dealing with the motion for the printing of the report, should the amendment be agreed to, Senator Duncan has consented to alter his amendment to read as follows: -

That the following words he added to the motion "but that further consideration of the question be deferred until after the whole of the evidence given before the Public Accounts Committee has been placed before the Senate."







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