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Wednesday, 5 November 1913

Senator STORY (South Australia) . - Before the debate closes I should like to say two or three words.It is somewhat difficult for a member of the Chinn Select Committee to know what to do on this motion. In the first place, the Committee was appointed by the Senate evidently against the wish of the Government, because from the time of its appointment they have thrown every possible obstacle in the way of the Committee carrying out its duties. They have refused to supply necessary documents which have been asked for repeatedly, to bring witnesses required by the Committee from Kalgoorlie, or to provide funds to enable the members of. the

Committee to go to Kalgoorlie, where it is probable that very valuable evidence might be obtained. In addition to throwing every obstacle iu the way of the Committee, the Leader and prominent members of the Government have said that the Committee is biased. It has been described as a polluted tribunal. The members of the Committee have already exceeded the bounds of their investigation in order that they might not be accused of burking the inquiry in any shape or form. As a member of the Committee I am satisfied that the object of the Government is to prevent the Committee reporting to Parliament this session. I think it is fair to assume that this motion, submitted by a supporter of the Government, is moved with the object of so enlarging the scope of the inquiry, and extending the time which will be occupied in it, that the session will close before it is possible for the Committee to make a report.

Senator Henderson - You know that it will not be so.

Senator STORY - I do not know anything of the sort. I know that the proposed extension of the scope of the inquiry will justify the Government and those supporting them in demanding that, perhaps, another dozen witnesses may be brought from New South Wales or elsewhere. I may be in order in stating that, although the Government absolutely refuse to provide the funds which the Committee consider necessary bo enable their inquiry bo be successfully completed they are, by the employment of very eminent counsel, running the people of Australia into hundreds of pounds of quite unnecessary expense, in order, first of all, bo prevent the Committee making a full inquiry, and, secondly, to prevent Mr. Chinn, who is, I was going to say, the victim, bub I will say the principal actor, in this drama, eliciting evidence from high officials in the Public Service which might possibly assist in proving that he is not quite as bad as some people think he is. I am in a somewhat difficult position in this matter, because I do not desire that it should be thought for a moment that I wish bo suppress anything which might prove that Mr. Chinn was not competent for the position he held. Still, I do think that extending the scope of the inquiry to the extent suggested will be utterly useless, that it will involve the expenditure of a large sum of money which will be entirely wasted, and that it will not assist the object of the investigation in any shape or form. I have no objection to the motion. I will not call for a division against it. But to consider the qualifications of Mr. Chinn will be a mere waste of time, because, as was stated by Senator O'Keefe, his qualifications were inquired into exhaustively by a Royal Commission appointed for the purpose, and no good result can be achieved by duplicating that inquiry.

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