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Tuesday, 29 September 1942

Mr GUY (Wilmot) .- The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for the making of grants to the three applicant States for the current financial year, namely, £800,000 to Western Australia, £800,000 to South Australia, and £575,000 to Tasmania. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, the applications of the claimant States for financial aid to compensate them for their disabilities were always referred to a parliamentary committee for investigation and report. This method was not entirely satisfactory and, in 1933, the Lyons Government appointed the Commonwealth Grants Commission, an action which met with' general approval. Shortly after its appointment, the commission agreed upon a formula for the purpose of arriving at what was thought to be a just and equitable, method of assessing the. disabilities of the various claimant States, and this formula alao met with approval. The commission is composed of men of integrity and repute who have no political axe to grind. Their only desire is to see that justice is done as between the Commonwealth and the States. They are, to all intents and purposes, acting in a judicial capacity. In the circumstances* one cannot but give general support to. their recommendations. To do otherwise would be tantamount to disputing the umpire's decision. For my part, I believe that it was a wise provision to remove the fixing of these grants beyond political control.

While I give general support to this measure, I hope that I shall be able to offer some constructive criticism, and that it will be accepted in that sense. I submit that the case of Tasmania is somewhat different from the cases of the other States, largely due to the fact that Tasmania does not derive as much benefit from government war expenditure.

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