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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1785

Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Opposition) - I shall be brief. I think we ought to vote on this matter now and I think we ought to have voted on it some time ago. I think Senator Wright was quite entitled to raise the matter which he did. That is his privilege. I take a different view from my colleague, Senator Wright. If the Government has made a boo-boo- I am not passing a judgment as to whether it should have purchased Blue Poles'- the electors will deal with it. I take perhaps the narrow legalistic point of view that the vendor ought to be paid. He has entered into a contract in good faith with a representative of the Australian Government. We may say the painting is no good or that too much has been paid for it but we will deal with that at an election. That is when the Government must face the issues. I take the point of view that the vendor is entitled to be paid. For those reasons I think that the sooner we reach the third reading stage of the Bill the better off we will be.

I believe no explanation has been given as to why this money had to be paid before the end of this month. I would have thought it would have been more politic to include the appropriation in another Bill. I do not say this is any derogatory sense, but the Government perhaps is to blame somewhat for this because there is a feeling that this was a method of sneaking the appropriation through the Parliament in a piece of emergency legislation. I do not think that was the best way of dealing with it. I think, perhaps, that the debate has gone too long this afternoon. If it has, I think it is due to the manner in which the Government has attempted to get the money from the Parliament to pay for the purchase. If the appropriation had been made in the right way we would not have been occupied on the matter for some two and a half hours.

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