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Saturday, 16 December 1905

Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan) (Treasurer) . - As I explained yesterday, these Supplementary Estimates represent the ordinary expenditure and the expenditure on additions, new works, and buildings, in excess of the appropriations for the years 1903-4 and 1904-5, the money for which has been obtained out of the Treasurer's advance. The expenditure in excess for 1903-4 was ,£6,768 for ordinary departmental expenditure, and for additions, new works, and buildings, £490., making a total of £7,258. The excess for 1904-5 was £84,414 for ordinary expenditure, and for new works £52,527, or a total of £136,941.. Honorable members will understand that these votes represent what in some States are called Excess Bills, and are the. amounts expended in excess of the votes included in the Appropriation Acts for the years named. Under our system, an advance of £200,000 is given to the Treasurer, and these amounts have been expended on his authority out of that advance. In making this advance to the Treasurer, Parliament has been careful to direct that it is given to enable him to make advances to the public Departments, to meet expenditure the particulars of which will afterwards be included in a parliamentary appropriation. This is very desirable, as it compels the Treasurer to account to this House for all sums he has expended out of the advance granted to him. Expenditure from the Treasurer's advance is perfectly legal, but it is our rule that there should be a second appropriation of the items. If Parliament so desired, that might be avoided by the adoption of other means; but still the practice in this Parliament and in the Parliaments of the States is that every item expended out of the Treasurer's advance, or whatever the fund may be called, shall be submitted for the approval of Parliament. As I said yesterday, it is rather late in the day to ask parliamentary approval of expenditure which took place in 1903-4; but I believe this necessity has arisen through some inadvertence. Honorable members are aware that all this expenditure took place before the present Government came into office, and they are therefore not in 'any way responsible for it. I believe that it was all jus* titled, and I shall be glad to give any information which honorable members may desire in regard to any particular item ir» these Estimates.

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