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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4186

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In the last Budget, among a number of projections, the honourable gentleman said that Commonwealth Government spending this year would increase over last year by an amount of 18.9 per cent. Is the Treasurer able to say today what he expects the increase to be? Will it exceed the 18.9 per cent and if so by how much?

Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - Every government must budget each year for the expenditure of a higher sum than for the previous year because it has more people to serve. So, at least, that means a basic increase in spending to begin with. If we must serve approximately 3 per cent more people than was the case for the previous year, we must have at least thai degree of increase in spending to maintain the same standard. In addition, unfortunately - this is not only true of this Government; it is true also of the experience of the Leader of the Opposition when he was in government - due to the inflation factor we must pay more each year to provide the same sort of services as we provided the year before. In addition, if a government wishes to increase the volume and improve the quality of its services, this will represent a third source of increase. All those factors were present at the framing of this Budget. I think I have said before that the cost to the Government due alone to inflation was something of the order of SI, 000m. It would have been the same cost to anybody else writing the program with which we commenced the financial year. We increased government spending by about 3 per cent to accommodate more people and in addition we greatly extended the social welfare programs, including pensions, education and so on. As the right honourable gentleman said, that amounted to an increase of 18.9 per cent or near enough to 19 per cent in government spending. We more than matched that increase by a percentage increase in revenue of 20 per cent.

Mr Snedden - I asked what was the increase. That was the question. There was an anticipated increase of 19 per cent in the Budget. What do you expect it will turn out to be for the year?

Mr CREAN - Well, the year has not progressed very far as yet. We are not even half way through the financial year. Whilst one would like to have monthly results, that is not easily attainable under the system, as the Leader of the Opposition would understand. But at the moment there is no inordinate increase expected over and above the anticipation of the Budget.

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