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Thursday, 31 July 1902

Mr BROWN (Canobolas) - With respect to the matter brought forward by the honorable member for Macquarie, I understand from an interjection made by the Acting Prime Minister that there is some misapprehension, and I shall have nothing further to say .upon it. Under the system to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, newspapers, and particularly provincial journals, suffer great injustice. The newspapers of Western Australia are not alone in this respect. In company with the honorable member for Macquarie and the honorable member for Newcastle, I recently brought the matter before the Postmaster-General, and we were promised that it should be looked into. Until we receive the official decision I do not think further comment is necessary. I wish, however, to bring before the Government a real grievance of some importance as affecting country interests. I refer to the long delay in carrying out approved Government works in connexion with the Post and Telegraph department. A couple of concrete cases have occurred in my own electorate- and I presume they are not singular - which should place the matter strongly before the Government. Some two or three years ago the question of additions to the Orange Post-office received the attention of the State Government, and over two and a half years ago provision was made upon the State Estimates for additions and improvements, estimated to cost something like .£2,000. As no tenders had been called for the work up to the date when the department was taken over by the Commonwealth, the matter passed over to the Federal Government. I understand that the Government fully realize the necessity for carrying out the work, but, as no provision has been made for it, nothing has been done. The position in regard to the post-office at Cargo, near Orange, is practically the same. From correspondence that I have received, I believe that that office is in such a condition that it is not creditable to the Government to require their officers to carry on business in it. The position is due to no fault of the Federal Post and Telegraph department. From inquiries I have made it seems that the department recognises the necessity for carrying out the work, and is prepared to take it in hand if the necessary funds are provided. The difficulty is that, although provision has been made on the Estimates for the work, the money is not yet available. The Treasurer has been requested by the department to provide the money from what is known as the Treasurer's Advance Account. But the light honorable gentleman sits hard on the Treasury chest and says, rightly no doubt - " No money shall come out of this chest without parliamentary authority." The whole trouble is due to the fact that the Government have been unable to secure the necessary parliamentary authority. I understand that although provision was made for the work on the

Estimates passed for the year just closed, the Appropriation Bill has not yet been put through, and that when it is passed the money will not be available for the reason that all unexpended votes lapse at the end of the year. The fact that the money so provided has not been expended will appear as a saving on the part of the Government. The only remedy is that the money should be revoted, and as in this, and possibly in a large number of other cases of a similar character, great injustice is being done to the community, I would respectfully urge the Government to introduce the necessary Estimates as speedily as possible, so that the work may be carried out. The work is of sufficient importance to war rant special consideration being given to it by the Government, either by taking the necessary funds from the Treasurer's advance account, or providing for them in one of the monthly Supply Bills. Failing either of these courses, the Estimates for the current financial year should be passed as speedily as possible, so that the money may be available.

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