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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a first time.

The following statement has been supplied to me by the Treasury -

This Bill is to cover expenditure for five months, ending 30th April, 1915, and, with the following exceptions, is based upon the rate of expenditure of 1913-14: -

Additional provision is made consequent upon the war under the head of Expeditionary Forces, Universal Training, Camps, Maintenance of Ships and Vessels, and a few other divisions in the Defence Department, particulars of which are set out on pages 64 and 65 of the Estimates of expenditure for the current financial year.

Provision is also made under Division 103a, railwaj's, for the following items, which appear on the Estimates for the first time this year. These amounts are to pay working expenses on that portion of the transcontinental line open for traffic, to purchase rails to replace those lost on the s.s.Hektor (the insurance money on which has been recovered and paid into revenue), and to provide credit for a trust fund account established in connexion with the providing of stores on the transcontinental railway.

All other items are of an ordinary recurring nature.

The payments covered by the Bill need to be made on Tuesday next, and owing to the fact that the Commonwealth is a country of magnificent distances, it is necessary to pass the measure a day or two previously. I ask the Senate to continue the consideration of the Bill to its completion. I am not able to say definitely when we shall need to meet next week. I shall be better informed at a later hour, but I believe that we may be able to adjourn from to-day until Tuesday. An understanding, I am informed, has been arrived at by which business will be completed on Wednesday in both Houses. There are certain Bills before the other House which have to come here, and we desire the Senate to have sufficient time to consider them. There are, for instance, the Commonwealth Bank Bill, the Defence Pensions Bill, and the taxation Bills, other than the Tariff Bill. If we decide to meet on Tuesday, that will give us the whole of that day and Wednesday to consider the measures. If, however, there should be a general wish to have more time, the Government will be quite willing for the Senate to meet on Monday, but I understand that honorable senators are rather desirous that that course should not be taken in order that they may return to their homes at the week end, and come back on Tuesday. Unless any information comes to hand during the afternoon, I propose to take that course. At the present time I do not see the necessity for sitting on Monday.

Senator Stewart - Why not?

Senator PEARCE - The proposition at present is that we should meet on Tuesday, but that is subject to variation by the state of business in another place.

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