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Tuesday, 8 November 1904

Mr WATSON (Bland) - I should like the Minister to give the Committee some information as to the increased rentals incurred in Victoria for the accommodation of the various Departments. The increase shown on last year's expenditure in this respect is fairly large, and I was wondering how much of it would be non-recurring. The rent will, of course, go on, but some of the expenditure on fittings, repairs, and furniture may be non-recurrent.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Considerable expenditure has been necessary in connexion with the new offices in Russell-street, which were taken owing to the needs of the Commonwealth Departments requiring greater office space. There is a vote of £450 for fittings and furniture. A portion of the vote for repairs and maintenance is non-recurring, and, from memory, I think the amount is something like £400. The vote for furniture and fittings has also been increased to some extent in connexion with the removal of Departments to the Commonwealth offices at the corner of Collins and Spring streets.

Mr Watson - Is it proposed to remove the Post and Telegraph Department to those offices ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Yes ; I understand that that Department will be removed to those offices this week. The Crown Solicitor's Department has already been moved into those offices, and the Public Works branch of the Home Affairs Department has been moved from rented offices in Collinsstreet to the Russell-street offices.

Mr Watson - What will be the additional ..annual expenditure due to the changes which have been made?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Roughly speaking, the additional cost will be from £400 to £450 per year. Of course, the increased space was necessary, and I quite recognise that the late Government had great difficulty in securing suitable and cheap premises in a desirable position. They had to incur considerable extra expenditure to secure premises, which, if they are not absolutely all that, could be desired, and better could not be obtained, are. at any rate partially suitable. Some of the expense involved is being recouped by removing Departments from other rented premises to the offices at the top of Collins-street.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 23 (Governor-General' $ establishment), £7,406.

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