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Wednesday, 20 July 1904

Mr WATSON - I find it difficult to compare the present expenditure with that which was incurred before Federation, for the reason that certain services are now charged to the votes of the Departments, which, in the various States, were either free or charged to votes of other Departments under State control. The principal of such services now debited to the Departments are

(a)   cost of maintenance of buildings and works; (&) rents; (c) water and sewerage rates ; (d) printing, advertising, and stationery; (e) postage and telegrams; (/) railway travelling; (g) audit. Of course, it is possible that certain of these services were charged to the Departments in South Australia, but I have no accurate information to guide me on this point. It is admittedly difficult to glean from the mere perusal of the Estimates or Appropriation Acts of the various States the exact position prior to the transfer of the Departments to the Commonwealth. It would, therefore, be impossible to make an accurate comparison, unless a special officer were sent to South Australia to collect proper data. Another difficulty presents itself owing to the fact that, in order to institute a fair comparison, the expenditure for arrears should be eliminated from the years to be. compared. As caref ul an examination as has been possible without incurring the expense of sending an officer to South Australia, has been made, with the following result : - The cost of the Customs Department in 1900-1 was £25,846; in 1901-2, £27,295; in 1902-3, £25,951; in 1903-4, £25,618. Thus, there has been a net reduction of £200. The expenditure in connexion with the Defence Department was, in 1900-1, £55,'999 :j in 1901-2, £54,188; in 1902-3, £49,583;. in 1903-4, £66,457, or .an increase of -approximately £10,000. The expenditure upon the Post'

Office was, in 1900-1, £222,271 ; in 1901-2, £231,198; in 1902-3, £237,073; in 1903-4, £240,103, or a net increase of about £18,000. The total expenditure upon the whole of the transferred Departments was - 1900-1, £304,116 ; 1901-2, £312,681; 1902-3, £312,607; and 1903-4, £332>17%- Therefore, there is an apparent total increase of £28,000. The expenditure of the Defence Department for the year 1903-4 shows an increase of £10,458, when compared with the expenditure for the year 1900-1, but included in the expenditure for the year 1903-4 is a charge of £22,892 to cover arrears in connexion with the maintenance of the Auxilary Squadron, the usual annual charge being only £10,000. That fully accounts for the increase in the expenditure of the Defence Department. Under the heading New Works, the expenditure of the Defence Department in 1903-4 was £12,035, which included £10,294 for rifles and reserve ammunition provided out of revenue, whereas, in the year 1900-1, £16,256 was similarly expended, but the money was provided from loan funds. The paying for stores from revenue is in accordance with the policy adopted some time ago by the Commonwealth Parliament, that all such expenditure and the expenditure on new works and buildings should be provided for out of revenue, and not out of loan funds.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a sounder policy than that of paying for such things with loan money.

Mr WATSON - In my view, it is. The expenditure of the Post Office, shows an increase of £17,832 during the three years under review ; but it must be remembered that, prior to the classification of the Public Service Commissioner just issued, the ordinary increments due in accordance with the South Australian law, have been paid to South Australian officers, and these payments account for a total expenditure of £11,167 in the three years 1901-2, 1902-3, and 1903-4. The minimum wage provision of the Commonwealth Public Service Act has involved an increase of £5>447; Of course, the amount paid in salaries has been reduced a little by deaths, dismissals, and so on ; but there is no doubt that a large proportion of the increased expenditure is due to the operation of the South Australian Act providing for increments. The extension of the telephone service is also responsible for an increase in the expenditure of the Department. Another cause of increase in the expenditure pf the Postal Department is the transmission of a larger number of telegrams in South Australia, owing to the reduction of rates made by this Parliament.

Mr Hutchison - The number of telegrams transmitted in South Australia has been increased by nearly 300,000.

Mr WATSON - About 300,000 additional telegrams have been sent, and, of course, their transmission has involved expense in the payment of extra officers. The figures which I have given show conclusively that there is no justification for the charge of extravagance against the Federal Administration. The net result is that the transferred services in South Australia show a nominal increase of about £20,000 for the year 1903-4, as compared with that of the previous year; but £11,000 of that expenditure was due to the operation of the South Australian Act, providing for increases, for the passing of which the Commonwealth was not responsible, and ,£12,000 went to pay arrears on account of the Auxiliary Squadron. In regard to other matters, charges now properly debited to the Federal Departments, but formerly debited to other departments, more than account for any difference.

Mr Hutchison - The Federal Administration has been cheaper than the State administration was.

Mr WATSON - The Federal Departments in South Australia are administered on a more economical scale now than was the case under State control.

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