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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator McBRIDE(South Australia-

Minister for Supply and Development) [8.8].- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

In this bill, the authority of Parliament is sought for the appropriation of £50,000,000 for war expenditure and for the raising of a corresponding amount of loan moneys to finance that expenditure. When the supplementary financial statement was submitted to the Senate in December last, I indicated that the estimated war expenditure for 1940-41 would be £186,500,000. At the same time, I stated that, after allowing for £62,000,000 being provided from the revenue of the current financial year, and £3,500,000 from balances in defence trust accounts at the 30th June, 1940, it would be necessary for £121,000,000 to be raised by means of loans. Loan appropriations, which have already been passed by Parliament for war expenditure, are sufficient to meet this expenditure, but further appropriations will be necessary to enable war services to be carried on during the early months of next financial year.

War expenditure for the present financial year financed from all sources, including revenue, trust funds, and loan funds, totalled £92,500,000 to the end of February, 1941. Provisional figures for March indicate an expenditure of about £20,000,000, making a total of about £112,000,000 as compared with £186,500,000 originally estimated for the year. The monthly rate of war expenditure during the early months of this financial year was not in proportion to the budget estimate, but the rate is rapidly increasing. Moreover, our overseas war expenditure has not yet reached the pro rata proportion of the budget estimate, mainly because of the fact that financial adjustments with the British Government for the maintenance of our troops in the Near East are somewhat in arrears. It is anticipated, however, that expenditure under this head will be substantial during the closing months of the financial year. It is possible, however, that the actual expenditure for the year will be somewhat less than was originally estimated, but at this juncture, it is impossible to forecast the extent of the decrease. Liabilities carried forward at the 30th June will, of course, have to be financed in the accounts for next year. As when a loan bill for £20,000,000 for war purposes was brought down in June, 1940, this bill makes no provision for details of the appropriation now sought. As then explained, it is . not practicable to indicate specifically the manner in which war appropriations will be expended. Considerable elasticity of appropriation is required to enable the Government to meet any emergency, and for that reason a wide authority is again sought on this occasion.

If honorable senators are desirous of more details in regard to various phases of our war expenditure, I have no doubt that the Ministers of the Service Departments will be pleased to furnish such information as can readily be supplied. I submit the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable senators.

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