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Thursday, 24 June 1915


Mr FINLAYSON (Brisbane) .- I wish to express my personal appreciation of the eulogistic references that have been made to the work of the Committee. I am favorably disposed to the suggestion that copies of the plans presented to the Committee should be attached to its reports, because if the members of the Committee cannot base their reports wholly on evidence, but must be assisted with maps and drawings, the House needs similar facilities for comprehending the questions under consideration. Without this information, an intelligent opinion on any question cannot be arrived at. I hope that the Minister will see his way to spend a little money in giving effect to the suggestion for the printing of plans to be attached to the reports.


Mr Sampson - How many Scotchmen are there on the Committee?


Mr FINLAYSON - The presence of Scotchmen on the Committee guarantees its success, and assures the Parliament good value for its expenditure on the Committee. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Wentworth is in a different category from that of the honorable member for Cook. I think that, in making it, the honorable member must have overlooked the enormous increase it would involve in the volume of evidence. It would also increase the cost of printing by one-third.


Mr Kelly - Does the honorable member suggest that the questions would occupy a third of the space covered by the answers ?


Mr FINLAYSON - No. But if the reports were printed in the form of question and answer they would be materially increased in bulk. The Public Works Committee considered the matter, and were unanimous, I think, in the view that, in order to reduce as much as possible the bulk of the reports, and keep down the cost of printing, we should adopt the deposition form of reporting.


Mr KELLY - It is the first time that I have heard of a politician who did not desire to have his words reported.


Mr FINLAYSON - Our object is to elicit information. We are concerned, not so much with the question of what an individual member of a Committee may try to get a witness to say as with the desire to ascertain the actual views of the witness in each case. I think that the evidence is presented in a very readable form.


Mr Kelly - But under the system adopted the reader cannot tell what questions have not been answered.


Mr FINLAYSON - The point is that the evidence of the witnesses is clearly given. The reports of Royal Commissions furnish an illustration of the redundancies which occur when the questionandAnswer form is adopted.


Mr Boyd - The honorable member does not suggest that each member of the Committee asks the same questions ?


Mr FINLAYSON - That is not always so; but different members may view the same question from different standpoints, and may be desirous of obtaining information accordingly. I repeat that our chief desire is to elicit information, and to present it to the House in a form in which it will be readily grasped. The system we have adopted, in my opinion, is the most readable, and certainly the readiest, means of enabling those who read our reports to estimate the value of the evidence and the scope of the inquiry. I think the honorable member for Wentworth will find that I am well within the mark when I state that the expense of producing our reports would be increased by one-third if his proposal were adopted. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Cook, however, is a reasonable one, and might be readily carried out with advantage to all concerned.







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