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Tuesday, 18 October 1904

The CHAIRMAN - Order. This is not the time for the honorable and learned member to put questions to the Treasurer.

Mr Isaacs - We were promised an answer to my question.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I listened very carefully to the reply made by the Prime Minister, and certainly did not understand him to say anything which would lead the honorable and learned member to the conclusion he has just stated. I thought the honorable and learned member took the view of his answer which I have just mentioned, because he said, "That is not an answer to my question."

Mr Isaacs - I am entitled to an answer.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - Other honorable members advised the honorable and learned member to ask the question again, and he himself said that the only course open to him was to take the Prime Minister's reply as equivalent to "No." Therefore, he could not have expected me to reply to his question ; and in a matter of policy of this kind I have no right, without a decision of the Cabinet, to discuss it. As I have said, my right honorable leader will fully discuss the matter at an early stage of this debate. Therefore, honorable members will have during this financial debate, when a.11 matters of importance are open to discussion, every opportunity to deal with the subject, and to ascertain the views of the Government in connexion with it. ' .

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - The Prime Minister practically said that he would delegate his answer to the Treasurer.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - So far as concerns the management of the Defence Forces, honorable members will find a sum of . £500 upon the Estimates for the purpose of the initial expenditure in connexion with a Board or Council of Advice. That is a matter which will have to be debated; and, I think, that experience has shown that it is better to discuss all matters relating to Departments when the Estimates for those Departments are under consideration. Of course there are some financial matters - such, for instance, as those with regard to States debts, transferred properties, preferential trade, and the Tariff - which can be discussed at the stage which we look upon, as equivalent to the second reading stage. But all matters particularly affecting Departments, such as the Post and Telegraph Department and the Defence Department, can, I think, be better discussed when we reach the Estimates for those Departments. Therefore, I have asked my colleague, the Minister of Defence, to make a full statement when the Estimates of his . Department are reached with regard to the future administration of the Defence Forces. I have now concluded by task. It has taken me longer than I had anticipated. I have omitted a large number of figures which I might have given to the Committee, but I will rectify that omission by requesting the publication of tables in the Hansard report, so that honorable members, before the Budget is discussed, will have an opportunity to consider everything that I have said in the light of full information. I can only assure the Committee that I have placed the whole of the facts before them, and I have put forward my anticipations, from the only point of view which I could justify - that which I honestly consider is likely to occur. I thank honorable members for allowing me to proceed with so few interruptions. I have not been in the best of health lately, and my strength has been somewhat strained. f will conclude by moving -

That including the sums already voted in this present session of Parliament for such services, the following sums be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1904-5 for the several services hereunder specified, namely - The Senate, , £6,722.

On that resolution the whole financial debate can take place. It is probable that, before we enter upon the discussion of the

Budget, I may have to ask for further supply.

Mr Isaacs - Probably I shall be able to obtain a definite answer to my question then.

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I again thank honorable members for their attention. I think that from the figures which I have given them honorable members will be able to obtain the fullest information in regard to the position of the States they represent. I can only say, in resuming my seat, that I hope that it will not be the duty of the Federal Treasurer on many more occasions to have to bring down the seven Budget statements which I have had to open in this and previous financial years.

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