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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence) - I would ask honorable senators to agree to the reconsideration of the two items with regard to which it has been decided to prefer requests) to the House of Representatives. In connexion with subdivision No. 1 of division No. 25, relating to Government House, Sydney, the Committee decided to request that the vote be reduced by £1,000. I am now in a position to tell honorable members that, so far as the Government are concerned, this line shall never appear on the Estimates again. If any arrangement is made in the future with regard to the occupation of Government House, Sydney, by the GovernorGeneral, it will have to be embodied in a Bill, and discussed on its merits, altogether apart from the Estimates. I would point out to honorable senators that this vote has been struck off at a moment's notice, and without any warning to the New South Wales Government, and that, if we insist upon our request, we shall lay ourselves open to the charge of having acted cavalierly towards the State authorities. I feel quite confident that, if I had been able to say last night what I am able to announce this evening, the request would not have been agreed to, and I would therefore ask honorable senators to agree to the reconsideration of the item and the withdrawal of the request. I also desire that the request with regard to the reduction of travelling expenses for members of the Senate should be withdrawn. Honorable senators know that they have already accomplished all that they desired, because the expenditure to which they objected will not be again incurred. If honorable senators will agree to adopt the course I have suggested, the Bill will become law to-morrow, and the public servants of the Commonwealth will receive their salaries at the usual time - on the last day of the month. If, however, the Senate persists in its requests, the payments to public servants of their monthly salaries will be delayed. I therefore move -

That division 1, sub-division 2, item 7, " Travelling Expenses," and division 25, sub-division i, " Sydney Government House " be reconsidered.

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