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Thursday, 10 July 1930

Senator COOPER (Queensland) . - [ have been impressed' with the fact that honorable senators supporting the Government seem to hold different opinions as to whether the bill should or should not be submitted to a select committee. Senator Dooley remarked that when the Labour party was in opposition it did not, at any time, urge the appointment of select committees to inquire into a measure brought down by the Government. That may be so, but I remind the honorable senator that when he a.nd his colleagues were in opposition they frequently suggested that bills should be amended or re-committed. The present Opposition asks for the same privilege, and, merely because it has a majority, it should not be imputed that its motives are not quite straight.

Senator Daly - The honorable senator must realize that it contemplates taking the business out of the hands of the Government.

Senator COOPER - Surely the Opposition has the right to protest against any measure which it does not approve. That is all that.honorable senators on this side are doing. Theirs is no idle desire to thwart the efforts of the Government. Rather they are endeavouring to perfect a bill the importance of which is generally admitted. It has been contended that the measure has been before Parliament for the last three months. I submit that it has had a mixed reception, and, as it has only recently come before the Senate, its progress has not been retarded in this chamber. The object of the Opposition in asking for a select committee is to evolve a better and more useful bill than that submitted by the Government. While honorable senators on this side agree as to the importance of a central reserve bank, they differ with supporters of the Government as to its conduct and personnel, and want those matters thoroughly investigated. I agree with Senator Thompson that we should take advantage of the arrival of the two eminent British financiers who are now nearing Australia to discuss with them the establishment of a central reserve bank.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [9.12]. - The statement was made by the Leader of the Government in this chamber (Senator Daly) that the Central Reserve Bank Bill had been before Parliament for three months. On looking up the dates I find that leave was given to bring in the bill in the House of Representatives on the 7th April last, but that its second reading did not take place until the 3rd June, when the Minister in charge of it explained the nature of the measure and the policy of the Government in regard to it. It reached the Senate on the 18th June, and its second reading was not moved in this chamber until the 27th June.

Senator Daly - But it was fully discussed in the press prior to that date.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - It was merely commented upon. Senator Barnes and other supporters of the Government claim that the measure has received full consideration from the Government, and because of that it should be accepted. I remind honorable senators that the Government's handling of bills is not of such a nature as to encourage us to accept every measure that it brings down. I direct attention to the constitutional bills, on which the Government evidently had two minds. It brought down two, changed its mind, and then brought down a third. A similar procedure occurred in regard to its amendment of the Arbitration Act, so that it cannot be wondered at if honorable senators on this side are rather sceptical as to whether all wisdom has been exhausted when the Government passes judgment on a bill. A large number of objections have been raised to this measure by people who have given a great deal of thought to the subject. When people come before the select committee they will not be able to get away with statements that they can so easily make in communications to newspapers. They can be cross-examined and their reasons sought for opposing the bill. The Government should not be afraid to submit their legislation to criticism outside, and therefore, should not fear the results of the submission of this bill to a select committee. In any case the amendment has not been moved for the purpose of delay.

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