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Monday, 21 March 1927

Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) . - I should like the Minister to explain upon what basis the amount provided in the schedule has been calculated. The bill provides that during the financial year commencing 1st July, 1927, the Commonwealth shall make monthly payments to the several States in respect of the amounts set out in the schedule for the year commencing 1st July, 1927. Section 7 of the Surplus Revenue Act provides -

Where in this act reference is made in relation to any payment or debit, to the number of the people of a State, the reference shall be deemed to be to the number of the people of the State, as ascertained according to the laws of the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth Statistican as at the 31st December, in the financial year in respect of which the payment or debit is to be made.

According to this bill the number of people for the year commencing 1st July, 1928, should be calculated as at the 31st December of that year. Honorable senators will see that we cannot possibly estimate what the population at that particular time will be. We can only assume that the calculation has been based upon the latest available statistics. This may be alright from the Government's point of view, but it may not suit the States. The Government in reply to the representations of honorable senators have repeatedly assured us that no State will suffer; but we have no sure knowledge that the figures in the schedule are correct. On a former occasion, figures submitted by the Commonwealth were challenged by the States. The Government has said that any discrepancy in ' the figures will be adjusted; but honorable senators are now asked to agree to definite figures in the schedule. Will the Minister inform us of the basis upon which they have been compiled 1 In view of the fact that this is portion of a new scheme for the adjustment of the finances between the Commonwealth and the

States, we should like to have an assurance that, in the event of the figures being proved to be incorrect, the States will get a fair deal, and that discrepancies will be adjusted.

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