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.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). I think that at this juncture honorable members should be informed of the actual contracts which have been entered into by the Government with various firms on whose property annexes have been built, or will be built. The actual form of agreement which is being signed has not been presented to Parliament, and in view of the importance of the issue raised the committee should have fuller information at its disposal. The term of the agreement is an important factor. The bill will remain in force for five years only. Yet honorable members have been informed that the agreements are likely to be for a longer period, possibly ten years. Thus the agreements are being made, or will be made, entirely outside the operations of the Department of Supply and Development, and the rights given to that department by this bill. I repeat that the terms of the contracts should be placed before the committee, together with all available information on the subject, so that honorable members would better be able to judge the merits of this legislation. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Holt) said that action could be taken by the Government under existing laws with regard to the acquisition of land, but the process of acquiring land under the existing laws takes a considerable time because certain procedure must be followed and many formalities have to be observed. It is doubtful whether, under existing legislation, the Government could take urgent action to acquire certain lands should the necessity to do so arise. This matter would be placed beyond all doubt if the amendment moved by . the honorable member for Batman were carried. As the Government is apparently prepared to go as far- as it possibly can in the direction of conscripting the manhood of this country for compulsory service in time of war, it should also be prepared to assume immediate control of capital in the form of the land upon which the annexes are built. The companies concerned may be subject to mortgage commitments, or to control by debenture holders. It may be that a company with which the Government is carrying on negotiations has not the right to sign away concessions because its stocks are largely in the hands of debenture holders who are entitled to control its policy. Every possible care therefore must be taken to ensure that factories and equipment established by the Government on privately-owned land are not in danger of passing from the hands of the Government. As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) pointed out, the fact that this measure will operate for only five years might result in the passing of valuable government property into the hands of private enterprise. With this possibility in view, industrialists . might make it their business to encourage the Government to construct factories upon their land in the hope that in a short time valuable equipment would pass into their hands to use as they desired. It is all very well for people to be liberal with their own money, but the Government is now dealing with public funds and cannot afford to be over-generous. There has been a tendency in all countries to indulge in extravagances when spending money on defence matters, but the Commonwealth Government should proceed cautiously. Public money amounting possibly to millions of pounds should not be expended in the establishment of annexes and factories on property to which the Government has no legal title. The Government should make sure that it has the power to acquire at the shortest possible notice the land upon which its factories have been established should the necessity arise. It would be very unfortunate if it found by a decision of the courts that it had no title to the improvements made on leased - lands.
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â I do not care whether it is to be on wheels, and there will be a tractor handy to take it away. We know that, although the Federal Government has considered itself supreme in the matter of legislation, on many occasions we have had the unfortunate spectacle of its having lost litigation, not only in the High Court of Australia, but also - thanks to a Tory government - before a higher authority outside of Australia, - namely, the Privy Council. I fear, therefore, the possible consequences of the Government providing machinery for private enterprise to make munitions for this country. Such action is without parallel in any other country in the world. Notwithstanding the sad experience of .the British Government in regard to the manufacture of munitions - I need not quote the speech of the Right Honorable Lloyd George in connexion with the immense profits made during the last war-
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Acquisition Act in this respect do not fit the bill completely in this case. If the Government desires to acquire land for annexes by virtue of its power under that act, it will be obliged to enter into a transaction which, as the honorable member for Batman agreed, will allow gross manipulation on the part of private enterprise, in order to secure fancy prices. The Assistant Minister also said that the annexes would be so constructed that they would be removable. Is it the intention of the Government to remove them from one site to another? The whole of the proposition is selfcontradictory. The honorable gentleman also said that the Government had already entered into some agreements for the leasing of sites for annexes. In that case, it is merely bringing down this measure in order to provide for something which it has already done. It had no right to anticipate the decisions of the legislature in that regard. It would be very interesting, I suggest, if the Minister would table some of the contracts which have already âbeen entered into, in order to allow honorable members to examine them. If that were done, possibly we should approach this matter from a different point of view. But honorable members are denied any information concerning the terms of such contracts.
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