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Thursday, 7 August 1902

Mr DEAKIN - I desire to lay upon the table a paper relating to the GovernorGeneral's establishment, which honorable members will receive with interest. In moving -

That the document be printed,

I may perhaps be allowed to direct the attention of honorable members to the manner in which the expenditure relating to the Governor-General's establishment, and the Federal Executive Council, is here submitted, in order that we may be prepared to deal with it if necessary,, in advance of the Estimates. As honorable members are aware, before a Governor-General can be appointed, it will be necessary for the House to determine what expenses it will authorize in connexion with his establishment. The question can now be considered quite free from its relation to any particular person, as the present acting occupant of the office can scarcely be affected by any determination which may be arrived at. When honorable members take the paper in their hands, they will notice on the left hand side of the upper column the appropriations for 1901. During the debates that recently took place, it was shown that the Governor-General's establishment was provided for in different votes. Seven or eight different items appear here, and in most' cases the votes of which they are part include appropriations for purposes other than those connected with the GovernorGeneral. An examination of the Canadian and States systems shows much the same practice ; but it also shows that in each case the distribution under a number of headings of the actual amount voted tends to obscure both the total amount and its purposes. On one side of this paper will be found grouped the appropriations as they appeared in the last Estimates. On the other side it is shown that, so far as future votes are concerned, only one line will appear in the Estimates : " GovernorGeneral's Establishment." The House has decided that there shall be no more allowances, and there are none here. Of the sums set out in this paper none will be paid to the Governor-General. They will be paid in order to maintain the house or houses in which the Governor-General resides, and to provide the necessary official expenses connected with the discharge of his duties. It is not competent for me at this stage to explain the contents of the paper, but I may perhaps be pardoned for saying that, inclusive of the special vote of £5,000 which was made last year, the appropriations for the Governor-General's establishment amounted to £13,180. The proposal about to be submitted in the current year's Estimates for the same establishment will be for an . appropriation df £5,500. Honorable members will find set out, in regard to the proposals for the current year, a number of details, which indicate what, after very careful and prolonged inquiry, we have been able to set down as the essentials. We have given every particular that it is possible to supply for the information of the House, and have out down every sum as low as is possible with the information at present at our disposal. But the House will not be asked to vote these details, because, notwithstanding all the inquiries which have been made, there is still some u u certainty as to whether some of the amounts are not too small, while others may, perhaps, be too large. The House will be asked to vote on this information the lump sum of £5,500, in one line, to meet the expenses of the Governor-General's establishment.

Mr Higgins - Is provision made for two residences 1

Mr DEAKIN - We provide for the maintenance of Government 'House, Melbourne, and Government House, Sydney, for the use of the Governor-General. It is not for rae to argue the question now more than to say that the position of the State of New South Wales, and the magnitude of its capital, appear to render it desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for the time being, should have every encouragement to visit that most important centre of Australian life. In regard to the total sum that appears on theEstimates for the expenses of the Federal

Executive Council, so far as they relate to the Governor-General, honorable members will, find that in this paper two changes have been made. The effect is that whereas last year a sum of £2,475 was appropriated for this purpose, we are asking for the current year a sum of only £1,925. We have reduced the amount set apart for various expenses of the Governor-General by £1,000, which, we think, upon the new lines of economy, will be sufficient. The increase that appears, and to which I wish to call the attention of the House, is made op. grounds of policy, and not in relation to the GovernorGeneral himself so much as to the Executive Government of the Common weal th. Honorable members who have acted as advisers to a Governor of any of the States will be aware that at the present time the practice in communicating either with the Colonial-office, or through the Colonialoffice with foreign powers, or with any of the great dependencies of the Empire, "is always the same. The communications which pass between the GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth and the Governors of the States have also been treated in one way. All that the Executive does when sending a .despatch to a State, to the Colonial-office, or to a foreign power, is to ask the Governor-General to send the message, and by-and-by to receive a reply. The intervening processes have been hitherto undertaken in the case of a State by a member of the Governor's s.taff, or, in the case of the Commonwealth, by a member of the Governor-General's staff. There has been no responsibility to the Executive for what has transpired during the intervening stages. In my own experience in an Executive, an instance occurred in which a loss was incurred amounting to several times this total annual cost of our Executive Council officers owing to an error in the transmission of an important message relating to a question of finance.

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