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Thursday, 19 March 1931

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I take this opportunity to briefly refer to the reply which I received to-day from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes) to two questions I submitted with respect to a speech by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) which was broadcast from Brisbane on the 14th instant. The questions T asked were -

1.   Is it a fact that the primary purpose of the Central Reserve Bank Bill at present before the Senate is to force a double dissolution of this Parliament?

2.   Ls it not a fact that the Treasurer stated, in addressing a public meeting in Brisbane on Saturday, the 14th March, that this was the designed purpose of the bill?

The answer I received to both questions was " No ". On the same night that this speech was delivered by the Treasurer, speeches by the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Latham) and the ex-Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) were -also broadcast. T listened in and was distinctly under the impression that the Treasurer said that the object of the Government in introducing the Central Reserve Bank Bill was to bring about a double dissolution. That statement he now denies.

Senator Daly - Is the honorable senator afraid of a double dissolution ?

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not the point. I would give my vote to-morrow for a double dissolution, although it would probably mean my end politically. Before I asked these questions I fortified myself by referring to the files of the newspapers in which reports of the speech appeared. I looked up the Brisbane Standard and the Brisbane Courier, and several other newspapers in which the speech was reported, and what I have said regarding the utterances of the Treasurer is supported by them. It is reported in the same way by almost every newspaper. I could only infer from the remarks of the Treasurer that the bill was designed for the purpose of bringing about a double dissolution, which can be brought about at any time on that measure so far as I am concerned. The Treasurer now states, according to the answer given to my question, that what he did say was that if the Senate continued to obstruct the- bill, its action might have the effect referred to. Without wishing to reflect upon the probity of the Treasurer, I may say the statement which he made was heard by thousands of people and was reported in the way I have mentioned in the press. In the circumstances, he should be man enough to admit that he expressed that opinion ; but that it may not necessarily be the opinion of the Labour party. After having heard the Treasurer and having read the reports of his speech, one can only suppose that the bill was introduced to bring about a serious difference between this chamber and another branch of the legislature, which would result in a double dissolution.

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