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Friday, 25 June 1937

Senator MARWICK (Western Australia) . - The amendment moved by Senator Johnston is identical with an amendment moved some time ago by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to the Commonwealth Grants Commission Bill. The powers of the Inter-State Commission are sufficiently wide, and are much more comprehensive than those of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Having obtained legal advice on the subject, I have not the slightest doubt in this matter; otherwise I would support the amendment moved by Senator Johnston. The Inter-State Commission will have sufficient power to inquire into any disabilities which Western Australia, or, in fact, any other State, may suffer. If we start to itemize by including subjects which should be inquired into, it will be necessary to include everything. The work of the commission in Western Australia should be much broader than of assessing the disabilities of that State due to federation. For instance, it will have powerto inquire fully into the disability which Western Australia Buffers owing to the enormous area of country which the government and people of that State must develop in the interests of national security. Western Australia with its comparatively small population and large productive capacity also suffers the disability of being far removed from the 'big consuming centres in the Commonwealth. Having perused the bill most carefully, and obtained legal advice, I feel that the powers of the commission are sufficiently comprehensive to enable it to inquire into any claim which a State may make. In these circumstances, I trust that Senator Johnston will withdraw his amendment.

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