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Tuesday, 10 December 1912

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - If the Vice-President of the Executive Council has not got this information I am not going to attempt to delay the passing of the Bill. I think the information I have asked for is information which the Committee ought to have, but if he has not got it now I do not propose to delay the matter any further. We do know that the Commonwealth is paying some interest on the purchase price. We also know that certain rents are accruing to the Commonwealth in respect of those properties, and I certainly think that when we are in Committee dealing on business lines with the purchase of a property that is information which ought to be .supplied. I shall take the first opportunity, probably by question to-morrow, of asking him to supply the information which I think ought to be given to-day.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [6.12]. - We would be glad to get the simple information which ordinarily, would be given by any one who wants authority to raise a sum of money for the purpose of paying off a debt. The amount stated is £153,000. All that is asked for is that some particulars should be given as to the way in which that amount is made up. I should not think it was beyond the possibility of my friends on the Ministerial bench to say what the rate of interest is. That ought to be a very simple thing. Either they have told us too much or too little. Either they have been given barely enough information themselves, or else, for some reason or other, they are indisposed to communicate the information to the Senate. I think they could within five minutes ascertain that information by communicating with the Treasurer in the other Chamber. It is a very simple thing, and it would facilitate business. The Vice-President of the Executive Council is always courteous and ready to facilitate business. It would have been a very easy thing whilst we have been debating this matter to ascertain that information. It would be very much more satisfactory if we got it now rather than after the Bill is passed, to elicit it by means of a question. If any alteration ought to be made in this amount - I do not suggest that there should be - it should be made now. There is no object in getting the information at all, unless in connexion with the consideration and passing of the Bill. I shall not go into the question as to whether it is better to have those rents passed into the Consolidated Revenue, and an appropriation made afterwards to pay interest, but we certainly ought to be given this information so that we may be able to set one against the other to see whether the Government are making a satisfactory bargain or not. We ought to know exactly what we are paying for this property, and the basis upon which we are borrowing this £153,000.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.


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