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Tuesday, 29 June 1937


Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (West ern Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [10.47].- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to grant Supply to carry on the services of the Commonwealth for the first two months of the coming financial year. The clauses and schedule of the bill have been framed in accordance with the practice adopted in past years. The amount which the committee is asked to appropriate from revenue is £5,776,890, which includes the following sums for ordinary services: -

 

Provision is made in the bill only for the amount which is estimated to he sufficient to carry on the essential services on the basis of the appropriations by the Parliament for the present year. The items making up this total represent approximately one-sixth of those appropriations, except in a few cases where the expenditure is heavy in the early months of the financial year.

In accordance with the cost of living provisions of the Public Service and other regulations, the salaries of Commonwealth employees willbe increased from the 1st July, 1937, the maximum increase being £6 per annum in the case of an adult male officer. This increase will involve an annual expenditure of approximately £200,000 per annum.

The usual provisions are made in the hill for refunds of revenue and advance to the Treasurer, the amountsbeing £350,000 and £1,500,000, respectively. The latter amountis mainly required to carry on uncompleted works in progress at the 30th June, 1937, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. It will also permit of a continuation of special grants to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The special grants to those States will be continued on the same basis as the grants approved by Parliament for the present financial year, pending the receipt of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the subsequent introduction of new bills, when any necessary adjustments will be made. No provision is made for any new expenditure, or any departure from present policy.

The present time appears to be an appropriate occasion to furnish to honorable senators an indication of the possible results of this financial year. The Consolidated Revenue Fund for the eleven months ended the 31st May discloses that, during that period, receipts exceeded expenditure by £1,800,000. This is largely due to the lag in expenditure, and cannot be taken as indicating the likelihood of a surplus of that magnitude when the year closes. Receipts for the full year from indirect taxes, that is, customs, excise and sales tax, are expected closely to approximate the budget estimate. Income tax revenue will exceed the estimate.Revenue under other head* will be practically normal. Unforeseen expenditure includes £150,000 by way of grants to the States in December last in order to provide assistance to persons out of employment, and £100,000 to cover the cost of the recent referendum.

The Commonwealth estimates of expenditure out of loan for the current year included an amount of £600,000 for telephone exchange services. This amount has been expended, but, in view of the difficulty of raising loan money for public works, particularly in May and November of last year, the Government has decided to provide £300,000 of this expenditure from revenue, leaving only £300,000 charged to the loan account for this purpose. The necessary adjustment of the appropriations will be made when the supplementary estimates of expenditure from revenue are introduced at a later date. Notwithstanding these unforeseen items, and our heavy commitments in the current month, I am glad to give the assurance that, in regard to the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund, operations will be satisfactory. I hope to be in a position, within a few days after the 30th June, to make available to honorable senators a statement setting out in some detail the revenue and expenditure of the year. I am confident that the returns will then disclose a surplus.

Question resolved in the affirmative-.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.







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