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Thursday, 1 May 1902

Sir GEORGE TURNER (BalaclavaTreasurer) - I desire to correct a misapprehension which appears to have arisen in the minds of some honorable members concerning a sum of £2,000 which appears upon the 'Estimates under the heading of " Federal Executive Council." That amount has nothing whatever to do with the expenses of the. Governor-General. It relates to official expenditure in connexion with the Executive Council. It is chiefly incurred in the transmission of such telegrams as must necessarily pass between the GovernorGeneral and the Home authorities. The item is worded .as widely as possible, so .as to cover anything which might be thought to come within its scope. A certain amount of printing is required in connexion with the work of the Executive Council, and a considerable quantity of stationery is also necessary. Travelling expenses are provided so -as to cover anything which might arise in that connexion, and telegrams, of course, constitute a large item. The Governor-General, it must be remembered, transmits a very large number of cablegrams to the.old country.

Mr McDonald - Does the £2,000 in question cover the whole of the official expenditure 1

Sir GEORGE TURNER - It covers expenses which the Governor-General is asked to undertake in connexion with the various departments in the way I have mentioned. In regard to Canada, which has been quoted I may mention that I have an extract from the Auditor-General's report for 1899 and 1900, which shows the expenditure connected with the establishment of the GovernorGeneral of the Dominion. If honorable members look at the Estimates they will find these items. The trouble in regard to most Estimates is that a considerable amount of expenditure is included under different headings. It i« a practice of which I do not approve. In this connexion, we all know that very frequently amounts are " buried." I was surprised to ascertain recently that, in Victoria, quite a number of items that I never dreamed of have been paid for .out of various votes in connexion with the Governor's establishment. In Canada, I find that the Governor-General receives 51,<000 dollars as salary; the salaries of the staff total 10,950 dollars; contingencies represent 16,000 dollars; the allowance for fuel and light is 8,000 dollars; and for electric light and fittings there is provided 1,400 dollars and 476 dollars .respectively, making a total of 88,000 dollars or £17,600. According to the report of the Auditor-General, that is the total amount expended in connection with the Governor-General's establishment. It is idle for honorable members in discussing this Bill to run away with the idea that the £2,000 provided, under the heading of " Executive Council," is given to the Governor-General to cover his own personal expenses. My feeling is that if anything is to be done to reimburse the GovernorGeneral, it is better that we should agree to vote a specific sum rather than that we should be continuallyplacingvarious amounts upon the Estimates. If we commence by making .a certain.allowance foi" travelling, or forprovidingelectric light or gas, or .anything else, we shall never know where the matter will end. The proposal of the Government to grant a specific sum of £8,000 will overcome the possibility of any misunderstanding. It will then be definitely .known what the Governor-General is to receive. If the committee entertain the idea that in .addition to the £10,000' salary, we should .make provision for an allowance to the GovernorGeneral, it would be better for us to fix some definite sum, and allow the occupant of that distinguished office to know exactly what he is to receive.

Mr Cameron - What reason : had he to suppose that he would receive any more ?

Sir GEORGE TURNER - We know that the Governors of all the States have been in the .habit of receiving various allowances. In New South Wales I understand that these allowances are very large. In all the States the Governor, in addition to his fixed salary, has been accustomed to receive quite a number of allowances. I am strongly opposed to that course. To my mind it is much better to provide a definite sum. There are a number of other items as 'to which it would be questionable whether the Governor-General should pay, or whether the Commonwealth should pay, unless we had some definite arrangement. I do not know that on a gentleman being appointed to such a position, and being told that he would get a salary of £10,000, he would not reasonably assume -that the Commonwealth would follow the practice adopted in the States, and give allowances. We start off at once by giving His Excellency an allowance, because he has house rent free ; whereas if we .gave a salary which had to include everything, we should naturally expect him to provide his own residence. Unless the House is prepared to lay down the distinct rule that we are not to give anything over the salary, it would be far better to place an amount on the Estimates annually. I should prefer, however, to have a definite amount fixed so that we may know exactly what we are giving. I rose more especially to correct a misapprehension with regard to the £2,000, which has nothing to do with the Governor-General, and also to point out that, in addition to the amount voted for salary in Canada, there are large allowances.

Mr Thomson - The salary in Australia is higher .than that inCanada, in proportion to population.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I do not know that that is a fair way of calculating the salary.

Mr Barton - Canada is a. .much cheaper country to live in.

Mr Thomson - The question is what we can afford to pay.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I felt that the House was dealing with some phases of the .question under a misapprehension, and, as I say, I rose to remove a misapprehension as to the £2,000, and to place honorable members in possession of .the full facts in regard to the expenditure in Canada.

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