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Wednesday, 21 October 1914

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - While I am a whole-souled supporter of the grant to the Belgian people, I think Senator Stewart has very properly spoken on the subject on which I touched when the question was previously under discussion. It is certainly incumbent upon the Administration to see that the money is handed to some effective Belgian authority.

Senator Barker - What do you think the Government are going to do with it? Do you think they are going to throw it into the sea?

Senator BAKHAP - I hope they will take a great deal of care in handing the money over to the authorities of the people over whose country there is no effective Government at the present time.

Senator Barker - They would not be worthy of the name of Government if they did not.

Senator BAKHAP - They might, in their generosity, make a mistake through being anxious to give the money to the Belgian people quickly. I would be one of the last to condemn them if they did, but I would urge them to exercise great care in the matter. I am not actuated by any parsimonious motive in making these remarks. I hope the money will reach the Belgian people, and help to relieve their personal and national distress, because I believe that their conduct is beyond all eulogy. Many of them have been dispersed; thousands have died gloriously at the post of honour, and I do not grudge the money. But we are the custodians of Australia's finances, and surely it is not beyond the province of an honorable senator to ask the Government in a friendly way to be very careful to hand the money over to some authority competent to disburse it properly.

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