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Tuesday, 30 September 1902

Sir GEORGE TURNER - With regard to the latter part of question 1, which states that the Queensland Government were in the dark as to how the increased expenditure had been incurred, as the information asked for had not been supplied, I have made the fullest inquiries in my department, and I find that no informatian which has been asked for has been withheld. In addition to that, for the very purpose of enabling all the States Governments to obtain the fullest possible information as to the receipts and expenditure, I have employed three of the principal officers in each of the State Treasuries as my officers, instead of taking the whole of the Commonwealth Treasury work oat of the State departments, as I might have done. From these officers the States Treasurers can derive all the information available, and, further, the officials in the transferred departments have instructions that every information desired by the States Treasurers is to be afforded them, even before it is sent on to me. The Premier of South Australia, in his Budget statement, made a complaint similar to that preferred by the Premier of Queensland. I wrote to Mr. Jenkins, and asked him what information had been denied to him, and he said that all he had asked for had been supplied except the estimates of receipts and expenditure for this year. Honorable members will understand that it would have been impossible to allow the officers to give details of the Estimates for this year until they had been dealt with by the Commonwealth Administration and by the Federal Treasurer, who naturally alter them as they may think necessary to suit financial requirements. With this exception, however, the fullest information afforded to the States Treasurers, not only by the returns sent to them every month, and by the quarterly statements showing the detailed receipts and expenditure, but by the officers of the various departments, who have placed every possible detail at their disposal. With regard to the statements which are being made as to the federal expenditure, and which are no doubt considerably injuring the Federation in some of the States, I will not say that they are made deliberately, but that they are uttered without proper inquiry in the States departments or at the Federal Treasury, where the fullest information is available. The cost of the whole of the transferred departments in Queensland in the year 1900-1 was £606,958, made up of £63,568upon Customs, £156,796 upon Defence, and £386,594 upon the Post-office. Last year the expenditure ' upon Customs was £62,039, upon the Defence £ 1 45, 3 1 4, and upon the Post-office £404, 890 ; making a total of £612,243, or an increase of £5,285. The tabulated statement is as follows : -


I propose to send this statement to the Treasurer of Queensland in order that he maycheck it and see in what respect it differs from his own figures. In order to be absolutely fair it is necessary to say that the expenditure for 1900-1 included £7,663 for additions, new works, and buildings, whilst owing to the Estimates being passed late in the year, we spent under this head during 1901-2 only the amount of £1,022. There was, therefore, an excess of expenditure in the previous year of upwards of £6,500 upon new works and buildings. Against this, however, the amount for 1901-2 is taken from the Treasury figures, which are £8,000 more than the expenditure shown by the Post-office department, and this is probably accounted for by the fact that some of the arrears of 1900-1 were debited in the Treasury books to the year 1901-2, in consequence of arrears and current expenditure being included in one return. If this be so, the amount should be deducted from the expenditure of 1901-2 and added to that of 1900-1. If we add the £8,000 to the expenditure of 1900-1, the total would be £614,958, and the total for 1901-2 would be reduced to £604,243, tout I have taken the Treasury figures as the least favorable to 1901-2. In view of this, therefore, it would appear that the expenditure in Queensland in connexion with transferred departments is no greater, but probably a little less, than before the Commonwealth assumed control.

The difference in the figures I have given and in those used by the Premier of Queensland arises from the fact having been overlooked that we had to provide in 1901-2 an immense amount of arrears which properly belong to the previous year. This was one of the consequences of adopting the new practice of closing down on the 30th of June instead of following the plan previously pursued in Queensland of waiting for three months later and debiting the expenditure to the previous year. With the permission of the House I should like to give some particulars of a similar character with regard to the State of Tasmania. So far asVictoria is concerned, I made a statement in the course of my Budget speech, and I gave the fullest details in order that the State Treasurer might check my figures if he thought fit. In New South Wales the same difficulty arose, but the State Treasurer sent me his calculations, and I was able to show him where he was wrong. In his Budget speech he made these remarks -

I may also add that from my observations I have every reason to believe that the transferred departments are as well and as economically managed by the Federal Government as ever they wereby this State.

The following table gives approximate particulars of the expenditure of the transferred departments in Tasmania during Several years : -


I may point out that in 1900-1 the departments were for the greater portion of the year under the control of the State, and, therefore, it cannot be said that the increased expenditure was caused by the change of control. As a matter of fact, the Estimates of the State Treasurer provided for the amount that was actually expended. In 1901-2, when we had control, the total expenditure in the three transferred departments amounted to £134,134. The following statement gives the details in comparison with the year 1900-1 : -


It will be seen that the expenditure for last year included some items which were not embraced within the expenditure of the previous year. This year, exclusive of £1,100, provision which has to be made for compensation in connexion with the Defence department, and for £11,000 which it is proposed to spend out of revenue, upon works similar to those previously constructed out of loan funds, the total expenditure will be increased to £141,153. Even if we expend the whole of that amount - and there probably will be some savings - the increase will be only £7,000 over the expenditure of the previous year. That is accounted for by two items, namely the increments, amounting to £2,052, which have been given to the public servants, according to the practice which has been followed in Tasmania, and £4,037 for the cable subsidy, which now has to be wholly paid by Tasmania, whereas it was formerly divided amongst the States. I intend to forward all these statements to the States Treasurers concerned, so that they may be checked. I contend that they show that the transferred departments are being worked as cheaply by the Federation as they could possibly be conducted by the State, and that all the statements which have been made regarding extra expenditure, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, are myths.

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