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Tuesday, 2 September 1902

Mr FOWLER (Perth) - In addition to the ordinary responsibility which Parliament always has in connexion with any legislation, we have a further responsibility in this particular matter. During the whole debate we have had the very haziest information, as to the exact standing of the gentlemen who are going to embark in this industry. Once before, on the floor of the House, I challenged those gentlemen to produce evidence that the money was actually available to carry on the work. I have had no reply to that challenge, which I now repeat; If the money be available, let evidence to that effect be produced ; and to that extent, at least, we shall then know where we stand. But we know perfectly well that the gentlemen interested are going to the markets of the world with their' leases, and that they intend to dangle this bonus before the wealthy classes in order to bring about the formation of a company. We are responsible to the extent that we offer a bonus, and the assumption is that this Parliament considers the industry to be one with every likelihood of success. But are we in a position to say we believe the industry, if initiated by the company, will be successful to the degree which the company have a right to expect ? We have no evidence whatever to that effect. In the interests of the people who are prepared to enter into a bona, fide industry of this kind, it is our duty to appoint a committte of investigation. If the proposed company be sound, and have reasonable ground. for assuming that they will carry on the industry successfully, I fail to see what objection they can have to the appointment of a committee, which, if the evidence be thoroughly satisfactory, will materially assist them in obtaining the money they require. In this way the appointment of a select committee will accelerate the establishment of the industry, and on that ground alone the motion is justified. If the result of the inquiry is to satisfy this House that there is reasonable prospect of success, those who are floating the company will have no difficulty in inducing investors to subscribe the required money. For these reasons alone I believe a select committee ought to be appointed to proceed at once with the necessary investigation.

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