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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) . - I notice that this building is to cost £15,000.

Mr Groom - That is the cost of the land and the building.

Mr JOHNSON - It is proposed to erect this building upon an entirely new site?

Mr Groom - Yes ; we have to acquire a new site nearer the shipping.

Mr JOHNSON - Then what is the reason for the Government proposal to erect a new Customs House? Is it because the present building is no longer useful ?

Mr Groom - It is in a dilapidated and insanitary condition, and has been reported upon to that effect.

Mr JOHNSON - I think that honorable members are entitled to understand the rea sons underlying all these proposals. No doubt, when the expenditure proposed is reasonable, no opposition will be raised to the items. There is just one point, however, upon which I should like to gain information. It occurs frequently throughout the Estimates. I refer to unexpended balances. It may be that when we are asked to authorize an expenditure of £1,000 during the current year in connexion with a new building, there is an unexpended balance from the previous year. I should like to know whether these balances will be added to the votes which are authorized on the Estimates now under consideration ?

Mr Groom - Unexpended balances absolutely lapse.

Mr JOHNSON - I have a reason for raising this question, because something relating to it cropped up the other day in connexion with the Audit Act. It was then pointed out that sometimes these balances are kept in hand, arid added to the votes for the current year. Thus it is quite possible that there might be an unexpended balance of £500 or £700, so that, when we voted £1,000 in connexion with any work the actual expenditure would be brought up to £1,700.

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