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Thursday, 30 August 1928

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member to withdraw that expression.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Am I not entitled to defend myself when an honorable member tells a lie about me?

Mr SPEAKER - An honorable member may deny the accuracy of any statement, and it is usual for the honorable member who has made a statement to which such exception has been taken to accept the denial.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At your bidding, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement; but I say that what the honorable member for Hume said was untrue.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member desires to say that the statement was incorrect.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I withdraw the statement that the remark was untrue, and say that it was incorrect.

Mr SPEAKER - It is usual for an honorable member to accept the assurance that a statement which had been made was incorrect.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not much concerned about the point at all.

Mr SPEAKER - But I am concerned in seeing that the rules of the House are complied with.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I stand by what I have said. Other members of the Public Accounts Committee who sit on the opposite side of this chamber know that my statement was correct. An officer was told off to escort the whole, committee over the building, and four members only accompanied him. When those who took part in the inspection returned to their cars, the other members of the committee had disappeared. The honorable member for Gwydir was one of those who had gone away. Those are the facts, and the honorable member has himself to thank for this exposure, because he went beyond the subject under discussion by the House in order to make an attack on the honorable member for Cook. I thought it was just as well to mention that the honorable member for Gwydir could not know much about the subject because he did not take part in the inspection.

Mr ABBOTT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not correct.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I leave that subject now, merely telling the honorable members that members on his own side, who were with the committee at the inspection of the stores, know that my statement is correct. As I have already indicated, I think that the honorable member for Gwydir has made the case for the Minister a good deal worse than it was before he rose- to speak. I believe that the Minister imagined that he had a complete answer to the charge laid by the honorable member for Cook. The Minister said, in effect, when he came to the end of his weak case, that a complete inquiry was to be held into the whole matter. Thus he gave his case away com pletely.

Sir Neville Howse - No. I said that a. complete inquiry was proceeding.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If there was nothing in the charge made by the honorable member for Cook, why was that assurance given? The honorable member for Gwydir did not mention that progress payments had been made on this job upon the certificates that had been issued. It was stated that everything in connexion with the affair was in order, and payments up to £46,000 had been made under the contract. Now it is said that £4,000 was kept in hand. I suggest that as a result of inquiries it will be found that the foundations have been so much reduced in strength that it will cost more than £4,000 to put them right. Perhaps, like some of the Commission's culverts, they will have to be blown up with dynamite. It is not an accurate statement of the position to say that the money required to cover the deficiency is in hand.

Mr Makin - The whole job will have to be begun again.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Statements are being made at every street corner about this affair. The honorable member for Cook and I have heard many things . about it, but we have not repeated them in this Chamber. It is said by persons who ought to know that even the 1,200 tons of cement has not all found its way into the building, because some of it has been sold for other jobs. If honorable members were to retail everything heard about this particular job, the Minister might have more justification than he has for the injured air that he adopted at the beginning of his speech. I have no hesitation, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, in referring to this subject, because it has not yet come before us officially, and I say that it calls loudly for a thorough investigation..

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