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Wednesday, 11 May 1960

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1959-60 is to obtain parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the 1959-60 Estimates. The various items contained in the Additional Estimates can be considered in detail in committee and I propose at this time to refer only to some of the major provisions.

Some re-allocation has been made within the total defence appropriation of £192,800,000, with consequential increases and decreases in individual votes. Provision has also been made for additional expenditure of £700,000, representing that part of the increased salary and wage payments which cannot be met from the Budget provision. Provision is made for additional expenditure of £5,600,000 on departmental and miscellaneous items. Savings on other items, however, are expected to limit net additional expenditure to about £3,000,000. Of the additional provision, £2,200,000 is attributable to increased payments resulting from the margins judgment. One hundred and seventy thousand pounds is included in respect of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme; assisted migration, £227,000; re-settlement of Tibetan refugees, £100,000; merchant ship construction subsidy, £42,000; typhoon and flood relief in Japan, Formosa and South Korea, £40,000. An amount of £1,375,000 is sought for repatriation services. This includes £359.000 in respect of salary and wage increases and £608,000 for medical treatment.

The amount sought for the Territories is £660,000. The principal increases are £117,000 in respect of salaries adjustment, and, under Northern Territory, educational services and scholarships £40,000, and maintenance of wards at government settlements £117,000.

Under Capital Works and Services, an amount of £2,650,000 is sought for additional expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. This additional provision is required to enable the Snowy Mountains authority to make increased payments to contractors who are constructing major works projects. The rate of progress on these contracts this year has been quite remarkable and has far exceeded the expectations on which the original Budget provisions of £25,600,000 was based. It is expected that the additional expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme will be offset to a substantial extent by net savings in other Commonwealth works expenditure this year. Partly as a result of the increased expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme this year, there will be a big drop in expenditure on the scheme in 1960-61. Expenditure in that year will be held to something below £20,000,000.

Other items of capital works expenditure include £700,000 for telephone and other equipment for the Post Office, which arises wholly from increased salary and wage payments; £475,000 for the acquisition of sites and buildings for the Tullamarine Airport; and £238,000 for advances to the Papua and New Guinea Administration for loans to ex-servicemen in agricultural enterprises.

When the Budget was prepared it was estimated that £37,000,000 would be needed to supplement loan proceeds available for the works and housing programmes of the States and to finance advances to the States for war service land settlement. Provision was therefore made to appropriate that amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. At the same time, it was proposed that £37,000,000 of defence expenditure be financed from the Loan Fund.

Because of the very rapid rate of increase in earnings, and employment and economic activity generally, the Budget position - and especially the position of the Consolidated Revenue Fund - will be stronger than was expected when the Budget was prepared, and it will not be necessary to charge as much defence expenditure to Loan Fund as was envisaged in the Budget. An additional appropriation for defence, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, of £31,000,000 is therefore being sought.

In addition, authority is sought to transfer to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve an amount of up to £10,000,000 over and above the £37,000,000 provided for in the Budget. There are still some elements of uncertainty as to the outcome of our financial transactions for the year, and our existing authority might not be sufficient to meet all contingencies.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.

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