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Wednesday, 16 November 1927
Page: 1452

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) [9.10]. - We have it on the authority of Senator Duncan himself that in this matter he has spoken as a supporter of the Government. I venture to say that if a stranger from Mars had been in the chamber during his speech, he would have had some difficulty in believing such an avowal.

Senator Duncan - It is sometimes very hard to know what the Government means.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.I suggest that the honorable senator does the Government, of which he claims to be a supporter, very little credit when he makes a statement that is a direct contradiction of one that was made on the motion for the second reading of the bill, and repeated by the Minister in charge to-night. I refer to the statement that the board of directors of the Commonwealth Bank had been consulted continuously from the time that this bill was first considered by the Government after its return from the elections. Senator Duncan, avowedly a Government supporter, makes the assertion on his own authority that the board was not consulted, despite the affirmation of the Government that it has been consulted continuously. He has informed us that upon his return to Sydney he was told by some members of the board-

Senator Duncan - I did not say that.

Senator Grant - No; he said he had good reason to believe.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - The honorable senator said that he had learned from members of the board-

Senator Duncan -i did not say that.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.The honorable senator attempted to convey to the committee the impression that he had learned of an opinion of the board that was hostile to this legislation. He certainly used the term "the board."

Senator Grant - He said he was led to believe.

Senator Duncan - I did not refer to the board as my informant.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - Although it has been stated to-night and on previous occasions that the opinions of the board were sought and obtained, the honorable senator says that the board was not consulted. Those may be the expressions of a supporter of the Government who has friendly intentions towards it, but they do not appeal to me in that way. On the contrary, they appear to me to have been made with the intention to damage the prestige and the good name of this' Government. "Whether or not that is . the intention, they can have no other effect. If the honorable senator had any doubt as to their effect, he had only to study the faces of honorable senators opposite to see with what pleasure they were received in that quarter. I do not propose to discuss the amendment further. The Minister in charge of the bill has made a statement on behalf of the Government. I ask honorable senators to accept that statement. If they are not prepared to do so, they should not continue to keep this Government in office, but should endeavour to secure another Government whose statements they will, be prepared to accept.

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