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Wednesday, 16 November 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I hope that the proposed section will be deefated. If, however, the committee agrees to it, I shall submit an amendment to leave out all the words after " Governor-General." "With Senator Needham I believe that it is not the intention of the Government to appoint the commissioners.

Senator Herbert Hays - Then why worry about this provision?

Senator FINDLEY - One never knows what may happen from day to day. This is evidenced by the change of front on the part of the Government and its supporters in the present case. What in the opinion of the Government was absolutely imperative yesterday, figuratively speaking, is considered unnecessary to-day.

Senator Verran - The honorable senator is only wasting time, and he knows it.

Senator FINDLEY - I should consider my time well spent if I succeeded in amending this bill in every possible direction. I take it that most members of the committee are wise men. We know that a number of honorable senators are not in favour of the bill either as introduced or with the amendment which has just been carried. In the circumstances, would it not be as well to give the committee an opportunity to have a full-dress debate on this proposal at a later stage. That would be possible if the committee agreed to strike out the words I have mentioned, because before the commissioners could' be appointed the Government would have to inform Parliament that it was its intention to make such appointments. In doing so it would announce the period for which they were to be appointed and the remuneration they were to be paid. I hold very democratic views in regard to the period of such appointments, which in this case is altogether too long. What will their duties consist of if they are ever called upon to undertake any work? All they will have to do, if certain State legislation is passed, will be to hand over borrowed money to State authorities, who will control the housing scheme. It is ridiculous to suggest that commissioners who will have very little work to do should be appointed for several years. Victoria is proud of its railways, which are controlled by three commissioners appointed, not for seven years as is proposed in this instance, but for only three years. Would any one suggest that the duties of the Victorian Railways Commissioners are not in every sense more responsible than are those which these commissioners will be required to undertake. I believe that any three members of the Senate could perform the* work these commissioners will be expected to do as easily as falling off a log. They will be called upon to undertake any intricate work in connexion with the housing scheme, lt is a wonder that the Government does not propose to appoint them for life ! The members of another place, whose work is infinitely more important, are elected for three years - unfortunately for them they are in some instances not required to serve for the full term - and honorable senators, whose duties are as important as honorable members in another place, are elected for a period of six years. Does any one suggest that the duties which these commissioners will undertake will be more important than is the framing of the legislation under which the people of this great Commonwealth live? I believe that a great majority of the committee will support my amendment; I know it is possible to convert some honorable senators opposite. The longer we disccuss this provision, and the more we comprehend its importance and significance, the more will it be considered necessary to achieve the objective I have in view. The discussion that has taken place has been beneficial, and has, I believe, strengthened the opposition to the proposed section. I could refer again to the period for which the commissioners are to be appointed without being guilty of tedious repetition. I know that you, sir, with your extensive knowledge of the Standing Orders, and of the procedure in committee, would not accuse me of so transgressing if I employed different language in a further reference to the subject.

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