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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [11.10].- I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill makes provision for an amount of £7,263,800 for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth for the first three months of the financial year 1936-37. This provision is necessary, because following the usual practice, at the conclusion of the present sittings Parliament will not be called together again before the 1st July next.

The following sums are included in the bill : -


These amounts are based on the appropriation passed by Parliament for the current financial year, and represent approximately one-quarter of the total appropriation for the year, except in one or two cases in which the expenditure on particular items is heavy in the first quarter of the financial year. The usual provision is also made for refunds of revenue and advance to the Treasurer of £500,000 and £1,500,000 respectively. The provision under " Advance to the Treasurer " is necessary to carry on uncompleted works in progress at the 30th June, 1936, and to cover unforeseen and other miscellaneous expenditure. The payments of the special grants to the States of South Australia,' Western Australia and Tasmania, will be continued on the same basis as the grants approved by Parliament for this financial year, and will be met from the Treasurer's advance, pending the introduction of new bills for the payment of grants during 1936-37, based on recommendations which will be received from the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

The bill does not provide for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy. It covers only the amount estimated to be necessary to carry on essential services on the basis of, and proportionate to, the current year's appropriation. Although approval is now being sought for supply for three months, it is the intention of the Government to ask Parliament to meet again before the expiration of that period when, in the ordinary course, the budget for the year will be introduced. This will give Parliament an opportunity to discuss in detail the Government's proposals as outlined in the budget.

Although the progressive figures showing the position of Commonwealth finances for the ten months ended the 30th April last are available, it is too early to forecast, with any accuracy, the results of the present financial year, except to indicate that there is every expectation that, from a revenue point of view, they will be satisfactory. I consider, however, that it would be of no benefit to honorable senators for me to attempt, at the present juncture, .to anticipate the excess of receipts over expenditure at the end of the present financial year.

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