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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr CHARLTON (HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- The amendment foreshadowed by the Minister certainly makes an alteration, but it maintains the principle of three Commissioners .

Mr Brennan - And the Minister intends that they shall be paid at a rate which nobody knows.

Mr CHARLTON - The amendment will lead us nowhere. I believe that it is to be proposed for the purpose of satisfying those honorable members opposite who committed themselves to vote against the appointment of' three Commissioners, but it will not get them out of their difficulty.

Mr Stewart - We shall provide that the fees as prescribed shall not exceed a total amount of £2,000 a year each.

Mr CHARLTON - The only alteration which will be made by the amendment will be that the two men who under the clause as drafted may receive a salary up to £2,000 a year, will give only part of their time to the work of the Commission, and will receive fees.

Mr Makin - There is a distinction without a difference.

Mr CHARLTON - The Minister's proposed amendment is simply a subterfuge behind which honorable members on the other side who committed themselves to vote against the appointment of three Commissioners may shelter. If I know those honorable members, they will not agree to a proposal of that kind. I am surprised that the Government has attempted to place them in such an awkward position. The Minister's proposed amendment certainly modifies this provision, but it still leaves three Commissioners.

Mr Stewart - With the important difference that only one of them can be employed on full time, and that the other two shall be paid prescribed fees according to the time they devote to the work.

Mr CHARLTON - But their fees may amount to £2,000 a year each, which is the amount of salary mentioned in the Bill.

Mr Gabb - We might just as well have three full-time men.

Mr CHARLTON - The Minister has put a poor sort of a proposition before us. . I do not think that it will justify any honorable member who spoke in favour of the appointment of one Commissioner altering his mind. Surely honorable members who are against three Commissioners will not agree to a proposal of this description. If they vote for the Minister's amendment, they mill undoubtedly be voting for three Commissioners. ' Honorable members know that I am opposed to the appointment of a Commission. The House, so far, has decided against my view. I now want to know whether honorable members desire one Commissioner or three to be appointed. To test their feeling on that matter, I move

That the word " three," line 1, be omitted with the view to insert in lieu thereof the word " one."

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