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Tuesday, 5 September 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South AustraliaVice President of the Executive Council) .--- 1 moveThat this Bill be now read a first time.

It is generally known that on the first reading of a Bill of this description honorable senators have an opportunity to make any remarks or criticisms they please, but I should like to point out that, whilst the Address-in-Reply is still before the Senate, it would be much more convenient for honorable senators, as well as more acceptable to the Government, if they reserved such criticisms for that debate, rather than indulge in them in dealing with the Supply Bill. As I have already intimated to the Leader of the Opposition, the only extraordinary item contained in this Bill is the vote of ,£200,000 for the Treasurer's Advance. In view of the experience of the last two months, I am sure we are not asking for an advance in excess of what we really require. A great many contracts have been let in connexion with our new military services. They are nearing completion, and every day brings in fresh accounts. From the first of the month to the thirtieth contractors will be asking for payment for completed services. There are other works approved by Parliament which must be paid for out of the Treasurer's Advance until complete estimates for them are passed. The amount that is being asked for on this occasion is £1,038,016. That may seem large for one month's supply. The amount voted bv Parliament for the services of the past two months was very considerable, and yet it! did not contain some of the items which are really part of the new services of this year. I would like to give honorable senators a few illustrations. Everybody must recognise that, as time goes on, the Commonwealth services must increase as a result of the legislation which we enact. I want to point out some of the items which have necessarily swelled the amount of Supply for the current month. We all know that last year the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, and in that connexion we require £58,000. Similarly the Commonwealth has assumed control of the Port Augusta railway, and for that service we need £46,000. For ammunition we require £23,000 above the proportion in the previous Supply Bill, whilst, in connexion with our compulsory military training, which has just become operative, we need £81,900. A sum of £22,000 has had to be cabled Home to meet the deficiency upon the Pacific Cable. These and other sums aggregate ,£241,000, and, with the Treasurer's Advance and £20,000 from refunds, which is the usual thing, would reduce the Supply for which we are now asking to between £500,000 and £600,000, wh'ich would be about half the amount of the Supply granted for two months during a previous session. All these items have been approved. The Supply for which we now ask is necessary to place the Government in a position to meet its liabilities until the Budget has been submitted to Parliament and the Estimates have been approved. To enable us to tide over the current month we are asking for the sum which is set down in this Bill, and I am sure that when honorable senators understand the position they will be only too willing to grant our request.

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