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Tuesday, 8 November 1904

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) - I should like some information with respect to the item under the heading of Sydney Government House, " Maintenance - House," and the item "Lighting on public' occasions and for offices." The expenditure on both these items last year exceeded the amount appropriated, and in both cases an increased vote is asked for this year. When we previously discussed the expenditure on the GovernorGeneral's establishment, we were promised that' the amount then being voted would be the limit, but the vote is gradually increasing year by year.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The vote asked for now is £500 less than the amount voted last year.

Mr TUDOR - There is an increase on the two items to which I have referred. On the item " Maintenance - House" £300 was the appropriation last year, and £427 was expended. On the other item, " Lighting on public occasions and for offices," £150 was the appropriation last year and £227 was expended. Then we have an item, "Orderlies, £25," and it is repeated in this year's Estimates, although nothing was spent on the item last year. I think we might have some explanation of these items.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - It will be seen that the amount asked for this year, under subdivision r, is some ,£500 less than the appropriation for last year, though the amount asked for is practically the same as the expenditure for last year. Of course there will be .variation in the amounts spent in' connexion with the various items during the year, as we can only approximately estimate what will be required. As regards the item " Maintenance - House," a vote of £73. over the actual expenditure for last year,' and £200 over the appropriation is asked for. As to the item, "Lighting on publicoccasions and for offices," the vote asked for this year is £23 more than the actual expenditure of last year, and £100 more than the appropriation for last year. It is thought that the amount provided for here will be found necessary to cover the expenditure required. The vote for "Orderlies" may or may not be required. Last year we were able to make arrangements by which the vote was not required, and we shall endeavour to make the same arrangements this year. I would point out that the expenditure in connexion with many of these items depends upon the length of time during which the House is occupied by the GovernorGeneral - a shorter period of occupation means a lower expenditure.

Mr Tudor - The same objection applies to the vote for the next subdivision.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - That may be so, but I am afraid that the Chairman will not permit us to discuss that vote.

Mr McDonald - The votes for the two subdivisions might be put together.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The vote for thi 9 subdivision might be passed, and we could then discuss any objection raised in connexion with subdivision No. 2.

Mr. MCDONALD(Kennedy).- I object to this very large expenditure, and I would point out that we do not, in these Estimates, get a true statement of the amount which is actually expended. Honorable members will find on page r.6 of these Estimates that we have already passed an item of £[1,000 for -

Official printing, stationery, travelling, telegrams, and other incidental expenditure for Governor-General.

That is in addition to this vote for £7,406!

Mr Watson - That has nothing to do with the Governor-General's personal establishment.

Mr MCDONALD - If that £1,000 was voted for some one else those who compiled these Estimates should have made that plain. If it was not voted for the GovernorGeneral it should be put> in its proper place.

Mr Watson - It is for the office of the Governor-General, but not for his personal establishment. It is for his official work

Mr MCDONALD - Then, why not put it clown as for his official work? As a matter of fact, past and present Treasurers have been quite willing to swell this amount in any way that might best deceive the Committee.

Mr Watson - There is no deception about it.

Mr MCDONALD - We have great reason to believe there is. Honorable members should consider the whole history of this matter. In the first instance, an attempt was made to vote £8,000 a year for the upkeep of Government Houses.

Mr Tudor - That was for extra salary.

Mr MCDONALD - It was for extra salary, but it was put down for upkeep of Government Houses. The Committee felt so emphatically on the subject that it practically took the business out of the hands of the Government, and changed the whole tenor of the Bill by refusing to grant the extra £8,000 required for the upkeep of Government Houses, and granting £10,000 as a special sum to cover certain expenditure. But we find that the sum required for this purpose is gradually creeping up to the amount which we then refused to vote. Treasurer after Treasurer has been prepared to come down here and ask for more. The item of £1,000 on page 16 is only another way of relieving the GovernorGeneral, of certain expenditure.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is not in order in discussing an item which has been passed.

Mr MCDONALD - I am only referring incidentally to .the item, which I think should have been inserted under the head of Governor-General's establishment, so that we might have known exactly what we were doing.

Mr Tudor - At any rate, our attention might have been directed to the item by a footnote.

Mr MCDONALD - Yes. We were disdistinctly led to believe that the total vote for the upkeep of Government Houses would not exceed £5,000.

Mr Watson - No.

Mr MCDONALD - The House was clearly given to understand by the Barton Government that, apart from the salar)' of £10,000, a vote of £5,000 would cover the necessary expenditure for the upkeep of Government Houses, namely, £2,000 in Sydney, and £3,000 in Melbourne, making a total expenditure of £15,000. If we include the item of £1,000 to which I have referred, we find that the expenditure has almost reached the sum of £18,406, which is practically £2,000 odd more than the House agreed to vote.

Mr Henry Willis - Does the honorable member wish to abolish the establishments ?

Mr MCDONALD - I certainly think that the establishment in New South Wales should be abolished, so that the expenditure might be kept within the bounds which were set a few years ago What right had New South Wales to receive this special consideration? Melbourne is the Seat of Government, and the official residence of the Governor-General should be here. New South Wales has no more right to the presence of His Excellency than has Queensland, or South Australia, or Western Australia. That concession, was made to New South Wales simply to allay the feeling of State jealousy. The Prime Minister goes upon the platform and talks about the way in which he will try to bring Victoria and New South Wales into harmony. Does he propose to accomplish the object by perpetuating an unnecessary expenditure °f £3.-000? Let us see how this money is to be spent. F or china and glass we are asked to vote £100. It must be a pretty rough function when that worth of china and glass is broken, for I presume that it will have to be replaced.

Mr Henry Willis - Does the honorable member notice how much was spent last year ?

Mr MCDONALD - Why is this enormous sum of £100 required this year for china and glass when only £39 was spent out of last year's vote of £too? Is a riot anticipated there?

Mr Tudor - In Victoria only £14 was spent on china and glass.

Mr MCDONALD - Yes ; but let me remind the honorable member that a larger breakage is anticipated in Victoria than in New South Wales, because no less a sum than £250 is asked for. I should like tl.e two subdivisions to be submitted as one, so that I can move a reduction in the total sum.

Mr Reid - There is no objection.

The CHAIRMAN - Is it the pleasure of the Committee that I should put the two subdivisions as one.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr MCDONALD - I move -

That the proposed vote be reduced by .£2,406.

If that reduction be made, the expenditure will be reduced "to the sum which it was agreed should be annually voted for the upkeep of Government Houses ; and after the refusal to grant £8,000 a year for this purpose, it is only fair this reduction should be made. I notice that the total expenditure for last year amounted to £5,991.

Mr. WATSON(Bland). - I think that the honorable member for Kennedy has not a clear recollection of the promise which was made to the House by the Barton Government. I have been endeavouring to find the text of the promise, but in the debate on the Governor-General's Establishment Bill, I can find no reference to it, and it is quite possible that it was made at a later stage, when the Estimates were being discussed. My recollection is that the promise was that practically the sum we have been voting - over £6,000 - should be spent.

Mr Tudor - We were promised that it should not exceed £5,000.

Mr Reid - The vote for last year was £7,387.

Mr WATSON - On this occasion I think the honorable member for Kennedy is complaining without reason. Although the appropriation last year was £7,387, the actual expenditure: was only £5,991, so that there was a saving of £1,396 on the amount voted. During the year, there was a considerable expenditure upon the grounds, which had nothing to do with the Governor-General, because we cannot ask him to use his own money in maintaining State property. A recent occupant of the position stated that the sum involved merely in keeping up the large staff of servants necessary for the Melbourne Government House was enormous, which can be easily understood by any one who knows the great size of the building.

Mr Reid - The upkeep of the Sydney Government House is also very expensive.

Mr WATSON - Yes ; but there are not so many rooms there, nor are they so large. While I opposed the Governor-General's Establishment Bill, which provided for the payment of an annual allowance to the GovernorGeneral, I think that the expenditure here provided for is avery proper one. If we require the Governor-General to occupy these premises we must keep them in order for him. The item in division 12, to which reference has been made, is to provide largely for expenditure on cablegrams which are purely official, and for other official expenditure. The Governor-General is the medium of communication between the

Prime Minister and the Colonial Office, and all official cablegrams are sent by him.

Mr McDonald - Then why is the expenditure not charged to the Prime Minister's Department?

Mr WATSON - It is charged to the Department of External Affairs. The vote last year was £1,000, and a similar sum is asked for this year, though the actual expenditure last year was only £648. I do not think that there is much to take exception to in any of the items which have been mentioned.

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