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Friday, 1 May 1942

Senator CAMERON (Victoria) (Minister for Aircraft Production) .- Senator Spicerhas argued that thi* matter should be left to the decision of the commission itself. It is reasonable to assume that the committee conferred with the members of the commission, and with every body whom it thought was competent to express an opinion. Senator Spicer is asking us to accept him as a. greater authority on the subject than the joint committee, although he has never consulted anybody, comparatively speaking, on the matter. One cannot imagine for one moment that the joint committee ignored the commission on this point. Indeed, I should think that the committee would approach the commission before anybody else on the subject. The committee has martialled its evidence in the form of this recommendation. The point I make is that Senator Spicer egotisticallysays to the committee, "I am a greater authority than the commission or the committee; accept me and reject them On the weight of evidence, I am not prepared to do so. I am perfectly certain that if Senator Spicer were presiding in a court of law, and had the duty of coming to a decision on the weight of evidence, he would take the stand that I am taking at the moment.

Senator A.J. McLachlan advanced arguments which have been very capably met by his colleague, Senator Foll, who pointed out that it would not be necessary for would-be artists to come from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or any other place, to Canberra for auditions, because facilities already exist in each capital city for testing such applicants. Thus this work can be carried on without the least increase of expenditure. Senator A. J. McLachlan pointed out the difficulties which he claimed would arise as the result of transferring the commission's head-quarters to Canberra. The same arguments could be used just as effectively in favour of the removal of Parliament from Canberra to Melbourne or Sydney. It could be contended that the interests of Parliament are so diverse, and its work so absorbing, that we should be able to carry out our tasks more efficiently in Sydney or Melbourne. We have heard that argument for years. Nevertheless, the consensus of opinion is that the Parliament should be in Canberra. Senator McBride has no objection to the transfer of the commission's head-quarters to Canberra, provided that an assurance be given that the transfer will be effected at a time more convenient than the present. Senator Foll has no objection to Canberra in this respect.He advanced a very good case in support of the recommendation of the committee. Thus, honorable senators opposite are divided on this matter. We must come to a decision on it on the weight of evidence, rather than be influenced by prejudice or bias. In that case, I submit, we should reject the amendment.

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