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Thursday, 24 June 1915

Mr RILEY (South Sydney) .- There is no desire on the part of the Public Works Committee to withhold any information from Parliament. It is for the House to say whether or not our reports shall be accompanied by plans of the works to which they relate. I would remind honorable members, however, that there are plans and plans. The sketch plan of a proposed building, unless reproduced in colours, would convey no information to honorable members. Different colours are used to indicate brick, stone, timber, and concrete work; so that such plans, if embodied in our reports, would have to be lithographed in colours, in order to make them intelligible. Another point is that in order to properly grasp the details of a plan one must also peruse the specifications, in which the thickness of the walls, their height, and other particulars are given. A plan printed in one colour would not convey an adequate idea of the character of the work proposed. I would remind honorable members that it is quite open to us to exhibit in the corridors of the House, in connexion with any report presented by us, the original plans of the work to which that report relates. The cost of presenting to Parliament properly printed plans in connexion with every report would be considerable. In connexion with some works on which we have reported we have had to examine dozens of plans. We have had to inspect the basement plan, and plans showing the several elevations of the buildings proposed to be erected. We could not undertake the responsibility of reproducing such plans in our report unless Parliament asked for them. Let me now explain to the honorable member for Wentworth why we decided upon the deposition form of reporting the evidence of witnesses. We had seen reports presented to this House by Select Committees and Royal Commissions in which over 5,000 questions were set out, togetherwith the answers given to them, every question being numbered, and the name of the questioner repeated again and again. It seemed to us that that was an unbusiness-like and costly system.

Mr Kelly - Was the judgment of the Committee influenced by the difficulty of framing questions on technical subjects ?

Mr RILEY - No; we were guided solely by the desire to curtail the work of theHansard staff, and to keep down expenditure. If themembers of the Committee had any desire to see their name in print, they would have adopted the question-and-answer form of reporting. No such consideration, however, weighed with us. Our sole desire is to do the work of the country in the most economical manner possible. We are pleased to have had this friendly criticism of our work, and, if the House desires it, we shall provide for printed plans to accompany our reports.

Mr J H Catts - Does the honorable member want a resolution on the subject?

Mr RILEY - No. We shall present with our next report the original plan as submitted to the Committee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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