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Friday, 30 October 1964


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) . - Before I make specific reference to an important matter, I wish to pay tribute to the inspired speech to which we have just been treated by Senator Maher. His lyrical references to the love songs of Kashmir find some response in my soul. Approaching the Schedules to this Bill, I claim also that I am almost completely impervious to satire. I refer to that part of the Second Schedule, under the Department of the Treasury, which gives a platinum point to the satire represented by this Bill, and which reads -

Advance to the Treasurer -

To enable the Treasurer -

(a)   to make advances that will be recovered during the financial year, in respect of expenditure that is not expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government; and

(b)   to make moneys available for expenditure, being expenditure that is not expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government -

(i)   particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to the Parliament; or

(ii)   pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure . . .

It occurs to me to inquire whether this passage gives expression to a motion which is as novel as the slim and tenuous tissue that is this Bill, now diminished in a financial sense to the cadaverous form of £2.368 million instead of about £200 million, as its predecessors provided. But we can pass by any further reference to that issue, because it is now ready for cooking and will be cooked on the occasion of the introduction of the first bill of this kind next year. Here we have a proposal to issue to the Treasurer this year £1 million credit for unspecified items. What I want to know is whether or not previous appropriation Bills have included an item of this character, that is, an advance to the Treasurer, to enable him to make advances and provide money for expenditure the details of which the Parliament will receive afterwards, or expenditure that is to be made pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to it.

The amount involved is only £1 million this year, but if it is a novel notion of the Federal Treasury in Canberra, it might be like that biblical cloud which, appearing on the horizon no bigger than a man's hand grew to great dimensions. The principle of allowing the inclusion in an Appropriation Bill, of an item in respect of which the details are not unspecified, is to be resisted by any Parliament that is jealous of its duty to scrutinise expenditure in any responsible fashion. I should like to be informed whether or not the item to which I direct attention is a novel item, and I should like to have some indication of some of the purposes to which the money is to be applied.







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