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Thursday, 23 June 1949

Mr TURNBULL (Wimmera) .- This clause reads as follows : -

The price at which electricity is supplied or sold by the authority shall be such as the Treasurer, after receipt of a recommendation by the Minister, determines.

Evidently, this is to he one of those cases in which a statutory authority shall, in fact, have no authority whatever when it conies to the fixing of prices. Had an earlier amendment moved by the Opposition been accepted, provision could have been made for Commonwealth and State representatives to confer when the price of electricity was to be fixed. The people by their votes showed clearly in a recent referendum that they did not want the Commonwealth to have the power to control prices. However, the Government has shown that if it is prevented by the people from getting the power it wants, it will try to get that power in some other way. Under this clause, the Treasurer is to have sole authority to fix prices, and we may be sure that the present Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), or any other Treasurer of the same political colour, would not hesitate to use the provision as an instrument of taxation. This is to be a tremendous project, and electricity will be sold to industry in two States, so that the Treasurer will actually be in a position to control industry, including dairying and other rural occupations. I very, much object to the provision. The Government is determined to put the clause through, but it is acting against the expressed will of the people.

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