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Wednesday, 11 November 1936

Senator MARWICK (Western Australia) . - I take exception to the procedure adopted in transacting the business of the Senate. The Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1936- 1937, authorized new expenditure amounting to £7,684,305. It seems strange to me that we should pass bills providing for the expenditure of millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money before the works on which the expenditure is incurred have been considered in this chamber. It is difficult for me to record an intelligent vote on a bill introduced, say, this afternoon, if we are expected to vote upon it within three or four hours. I realize that Ministers, through close contact with departmental officers are usually fully acquainted with the contents of bills brought down, but private senators should have a reasonable opportunity to consider them in detail.

I wish now to refer to the financial relations of the 'Commonwealth and the States.For five successive years the Commonwealth has shown a surplus, the accumulated surplus being now approximately £10,000,000, but during that quinquennium the deficits of the States have increased by over £40,000,000. If loan moneys are included, we find that the deficits of the States have grown by £75,799,000, whereas the Commonwealth debt has decreased by £7,847,000 during the last {out years. The conditions which lead to such results should be altered. There is urgent need for a re-adjustment of the financial relations of the Common wealth and the States, because Australia cannot continue to drift at the rate of £67,000,000 every four years. Unless the drift is checked, the day is fast approaching when Australia will be forced either to default or to take more drastic action to meet its financial obligations.

Senator Brown - 'Perhaps it will borrow more money to pay the debts.

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