Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 13 June 1902

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to indorse what the last speaker has said in reference to quarterly Supply Bills. But I rose chiefly to refer to the case of a man who, until recently, was employed in the Postal department. This officer was retired from the service upon attaining 60 years of age, and under the State laws is entitled to receive a pension. But although he has now been retired for nearly three months he has drawn no pension whatever, in consequence of some misunderstanding betweenthe State and the Federal Governments regarding the constitutional aspect of the question.

Sir George Turner - I have not heard of any such question being raised.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can assure the Treasurer that the facts are as I have stated. This officer has been kept for three months, without any pension because the Federal and State authorities cannot settle some departmental difficulty. Of course it was a very small matter, but the same thing is likely to be repeated in very many instances, and I think that there ought to be some method of overcoming the obstacle which apparently exists.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - If the honorable member will give me the name of the officer to whom he refers I will have the matter investigated. I cas assure him that no constitutional difficulty exists, although considerable difficulty is experienced in getting the necessary certificate from the Public Service Board and the Audit Commissioners regarding the amount that is to be paid. But as soon as this information is received the sum is passed by the Executive and paid by the Treasury. Concerning the remarks of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. V. L. Solomon, I should be only too glad if we could adopt the system of quarterly Supply Bills. The present practice involves a good deal of work on the part of the departments. Monthly Supply Bills have been introduced, because I always hoped that we should be afforded an early opportunity of dealing with the Estimates. Of course, the manner in which the question of Supply is dealt with in the future must depend upon the period that Parliament sits. It may be that, if we are to meet in September, I shall ask the House to pass the Continuation of Payments Bill, which will enable me to make payments for three months upon the basis of the previous year' s Estimates. I do not know that I shall follow that course upon the present occasion, because I hope before we rise to place before honorable members the Estimates for next year, and, if possible, to get them passed. If we have to continue in session we may as well deal with that question, and give honorable members an opportunity of discussing the amounts set down before the expenditure is actually incurred. I know that in all the States the practice has been to submit the Estimates about July, and to deal with them at the end of the year. Upon one occasion I was very virtuous, and was determined to deal with the Estimates before any expenditure took place, but the only result of my good resolution was that the total was increased by £1,000.

Mr Henry Willis - Can we deal with next year's Estimates during the present session 1

Sir GEORGE TURNER - It may be that honorable members will be prepared to sit a month or two longer and deal with those Estimates, and thus enable us to meet again early next year. Probably it would be the end of July before I could make my financial statement, because I have to obtain many particulars from the various States, and the Cabinet would require a little time to go carefully into the proposals relating to the retrenchment which has been resolved upon in connexion with the Defence department. If we are sitting in J July, I hope to place the Estimates for next year before the House and deal with them before we rise ; if not, I shall, have to ask' for a couple of month's Supply, or for the passage of the Continuation of Payments Bill, which will enable us to carry on upon the basis of the present Estimates.

Suggest corrections