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Friday, 8 February 1929


Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) .- I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). It is fitting that, at this early stage in the session, attention should be directed to the need for a more rigid examination, by honorable members, of the expenditure of departments. There is a consensus of opinion in the country that our central system of administration of great public departments is proving unduly costly. We had an illustration of this extraordinary growth in expenditure only this morning, in a reply given by a Minister to a question submitted by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) in connexion with the cost of the Murray River undertakings. The cost to date of those works represents a colossal increase over the original estimate. The latest expenditure authorized on them is of such enormous proportions as to give ground for the suspicion that the preparation of departmental estimates is either slipshod in methods or is undertaken by persons who do not give sufficient attention to the probable cost of public works.


Mr Bowden - The original estimates for the Murray River works were pre-war figures.


Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The undertaking I mention is hut one of many, the cost of which has greatly exceeded the original estimates. I hope that the Treasurer, in particular, will induce his colleagues in the Ministry to urge upon heads of departments the absolute necessity for a complete revision of the method of preparing estimates for submission to Parliament. Members of this House are entitled to be furnished with more accurate figures regarding the probable cost of projected public works. I am not sure that heads of departments are not strongly censurable for the enormous increase in the cost of almost all public undertakings. I join with the honorable member for Dalley in the hope that there will be created a more definite public conscience not only in this House, but outside, in connexion with Federal expenditure generally.







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