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Friday, 25 June 1937

The CHAIRMAN - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the clause under discussion and, in particular, to the amendment submitted by Senator Johnston.^

Senator ARKINS - I shall not support the honorable senator's amendment. On the contrary, I agree entirely with the contention of Senator Marwick, that if any particular matter be specifically referred to the commission, the scope of its investigation powers will be restricted. I believe that the proposed commission will serve a very useful purpose, because I am firmly of the opinion that its members, like justice, will be blind; it will be free of State influences and prejudices, and being practically a judicial tribunal, will weigh carefully the merits of the claims of the smaller States as against the benefits enjoyed by the larger States.

Senator McLeay - Why use the term " against " ?

Senator ARKINS - I use it in the sense that for quite a number of years we have been told that the eastern States have been rather unfair in their attitude towards the smaller States. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has advanced that view in very pronounced language. I have repeatedly reminded honorable senators who represent the smaller States that honorable senators as a whole always endeavour to give them a square deal. I supported the second reading of this measure because

I want to see that perfect justice, if possible, is done in respect of the smaller States. As a member of the Senate, I have no purpose other than to see that the smaller units of this federation receive equitable treatment. I believe that, as the result of the re-constitution of the Inter-State Commission many misunderstandings and difficulties now existing between the smaller and the larger States will be removed.

The CHAIRMAN - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the clause under consideration.

Senator ARKINS - I do not believe that Senator E. B. Johnston's amendment will serve any useful purpose. On the contrary it will probably hamper the commission in dealing with many matters which, we hope, it will be able to consider. I hope that the commission will, as has been my endeavour as a senator, guarantee justice, and even something more than justice to the smaller States.

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