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Thursday, 25 May 1939

Mr PRICE (Boothby) . - I have listened with a good deal of attention to the arguments that have been adduced on this clause. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Mahoney) touched on many subjects.Although I admit that the clause gives one considerable latitude, I do not propose to ramble as he has done but shall confine my remarks to paragraph e. Every honorable member is very greatly concerned in regard to profiteering. Although cheap gibes have been thrown across the chamber, let me say to those who have made them that I am just as much concerned about the limitation of profits as they are.

Mr Mahoney - The honorable member has never stood up to an obligation in his life.

Mr PRICE - That is wrong. I have always been opposed to profiteering, and have spoken against it whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse.)I remind the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) that he is out of order in interjecting in the way he does. I am warning him.

Mr PRICE - I was interested in the statement of the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) that, even under existing arrangements profiteering was practically impossible. I do not entirely agree with him in that, but I believe that every effort should be made to exclude the possibility of profiteering. He also stated that under section 67 of the Defence Act, the Government possessed powers to control profit-taking. I am very pleased that it has such powers, because that constitutes an additional safeguard. However, whether or not the powers conferred in this bill are necessary for the purpose of controlling profits, its introduction has furnished an opportunity to discuss the subject of profits generally. I have studied the proposed amendments, particularly those of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr.

White). In effect, those honorable members have stated that a profit of 6 per cent. is sufficient in all cases. In my opinion, 6 per cent. might be too much in some instances, and not enough in others. For that reason I do not propose to support the amendment of the honorable member for Martin.

Mr McCall - I said that profits should be up to 6 per cent. They might be only one per cent.

Mr PRICE - I do not like the wording of the amendment, and I do not like the principle involved in it. Therefore, I shall not support it, but I am prepared to support the amendment of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde), which takes the form of a proviso that nothing shall exclude provision for the ascertainment of costs, and the control or limitation of profits in relation to the production of munitions.

We have heard much about the services of accountants. I believe that there are many admirable accountants, and they should be capable of doing much good work as members of an advisory committee. I point out to the Minister, however, that he should not place too much responsibility on them. It is necessary, in addition to accountants, to have qualified technical men to advise them. An accountant is a man who deals with figures only, and, in a matter of this kind, he would need the advice of a qualified technician.

Mr.Frost.-So that he might be deceived.

Mr PRICE - It all depends on whether one has a suspicious mind. The rest of the bill has my support, and I hope that it will have a speedy passage.

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