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Tuesday, 31 July 1906

Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan) (Treasurer) . - Under the Audit Act the transfer of one item to another in the same subdivision of the Estimates is permissible. This clause 30A is not intended to meet such' cases. As I understand it, the intention is that when a Department applies to the Treasurer for an increase in respect to an item or for any expenditure not under the Appropriation Act, and the Treasurer approves of the amount so required being charged against the Treasurer's Advance, that amount, instead of being kept in a separate account against the Treasurer's Advance, may be debited at once to the sub-head or vote in the Estimates to which it relates.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What would be the position if there were no vote on the Estimates.?

Sir JOHN FORREST - In that case we should have to create a vote from the Treasurer's Advance. That is done towards the end of the financial year. The books are closed on 30th June in each year, and where cases of this kind arise the amounts have to be advanced bv the Treasurer out of what is known as ' 1 Advance to the Trea- surer." They have then to be debited to the particular sub-heading to which they relate, in order that the public accounts may be so presented to the House as to show properly the expenditure under every heading. That system has always been followed. It is now proposed to make a short cut, rather than to wait until the end of the vear. In Western Australia we always charged the item at once to the vote or sub-head. Under the Federal system, however, that has not been customary. It is much more simple and sensible to charge the item against the vote at once.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes j tout why has it not been done?

Sir JOHN FORREST - Because there was some question as to whether, under the

Audit Act, it could be done legally. It is now proposed to take the necessary power for that purpose. Without telling tales out of school, I think I can say that, as a matter of fact, it has often been done. It is the right thing to charge the vote straightaway rather than keep a separate account of the advance, and at the end of the year allocate it, because it will save double work.

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