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Thursday, 6 May 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .- I think this is the eighth or ninth occasion on which the Supplementary Estimates have been submitted after the money has been expended. Honorable members know by experience that this has been the practice for many years, and it destroys the arguments used on political platforms that certain amounts under the item " Contingencies " have been expended before a statement has been submitted to Parliament. Any honorable member who has been a Minister for five minutes knows that it is impossible to spend even 5s. without a voucher. In passing the Supplementary Estimates we are not agreeing to the expenditure, because we have not had an opportunity of voicing our objections, but there are some items which I would like to comment on. The money has already been spent, and we are now only validating the action of the Government. In dealing with the ordinary Estimates, although the period which they cover will expire in eight or nine weeks, it is still possible to criticise some of the expenditure, but it is useless criticising the disbursement of money which has already taken place.

Mr Fenton - Where are the Supplementary Estimates for 1918-19?

Mr TUDOR - They are yet to come. I wish, however, to deal with a matter mentioned by the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), and I regret that the honorable member for Adelaide? (Mr. Blundell) is not in the chamber. This afternoon I had occasion to interject concerning the gantries or grabs erected at Port Pirie. That plant was installed there on the distinct understanding - I think the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) was Treasurer at the time - that the South Australian Government would defray the cost. When I stated that the South Australian Government should pay for the cost of installing that plant, the honorable member for Adelaide interjected, "No; you will never get a penny for it." South Australia, having entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth, should be compelled to pay.

Mr Richard Foster - Who said that it would not?

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member for Adelaide said that the Commonwealth would not get a penny.

Mr Richard Foster - The agreement was made between the Commonwealth and the Vaughan Government in South Australia, of which the honorable member for Adelaide was a member.

Mr TUDOR - Yes; and it should be compelled to carry out the agreement. The Minister knows that two years ago the then member for Henty (Mr.Boyd), the honorable member for Capricornia, and I drew special attention to the matter, and I said that as the plant had been placed there, the South Australian Government should pay.

Mr Richard Foster - It has proved immensely profitable.

Mr TUDOR - That has been denied by other persons who should know.

Mr Richard Foster -Admiral Clarkson stated recently that it not only saved time, but was a mighty fine investment from a monetary point of view.

Mr TUDOR - Mr. Boyd,when a member of this Chamber, stated that, with the members of the Melbourne Harbor Trust, he visited Port Pirie for the specific purpose of examining the plant and ascertaining if it would be advantageous to erect a similar plant in Melbourne. No one would doubt the. business ability of such men as Mr. McPherson (the State Treasurer), Mr. Henry Meeks, and Mr. Appleton, on whose recommendation the proposition was turned down.

Mr Richard Foster - Three weeks ago a vessel at Port Pirie was discharged in 24 hours; it would have taken 4 days in Melbourne.

Mr Poynton - The increased despatch is equal to 100 per cent.

Mr TUDOR - I am not so much concerned with that phase of the question ; but I am pointing out that the Commonwealth Government entered into an agreement with the State Government of South Australia, under which it was agreed that the latter would defray the cost, which amounted to £70,000 or £80,000.

Mr Poynton -It was £77,000, I believe.

Mr Richard Foster - It was under £80,000.

Mr TUDOR - At any rate, we have a right to get that money. The fact that we are getting something from the wharf is of no consequence, because we own the wharf and we had to pay for it. We paid so much for the gantries and so much for the wharf, and if we are getting any revenue, we are receiving it from the wharf and not from the gantries.

Mr Richard Foster - You are receiving splendid profits from the gantries.

Mr TUDOR - We have a right to demand payment, and I say deliberately that the South Australian Government is not taking a " broad national view " of the question. Representatives of other States have a right to demand that such agreements shall be kept.

The East-West railway was constructed on the distinct understanding that the Western Australian Government would build a line on the 4-ft. 84-in. gauge from Kalgoorlie to Perth. But the position, eighteen months or two years ago, was that passengers had to wait at least nine hours in Kalgoorlie before they could proceed to Perth. If the West Australian Government repudiated their agreement, that is no reason why the South Australian Government should act similarly.

Mr Poynton - The South Australian Government wanted to purchase the wharf, but I refused until the plant had been paid for. We have the key of the situation.

Mr TUDOR - I commend the Minister for his action. I would not have raised this point had not the Minister mentioned it and the honorable member for Adelaide interjected to the effect that it was not the intention of South Australia to pay.

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