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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator MATHESON (Western Australia) - I direct attention to the items "Towards cost of transport of rifle team competing at rifle association matches at Western Australia, £107," and "Transport of rifles into Western Australia, £58." I should like to know how these items are brought into these Estimates, when, as I understand the matter, the charges were supposed to have been met out of last year's provision for travelling expenses. I interviewed the Department of Defence in connexion with this very matter, and I was told that there would be no necessity for a special vote. Now I find that special votes are submitted.

Senator Playford - These are not special votes.

Senator MATHESON - I understood that these amounts were to come out of the provision set aside for travelling expenses.

Senator Playford - This is for a special case in which a special team was sent over, and the expense was met out of the Treasurer's Advance.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales). - I believe that the sum of £100 was voted for the purpose on the Estimatesinchief, and there is a vote here of , £58 for the transport of a rifle team to Western Australia.

Senator Keating - That only applied to the South Australian team; the other vote of£107 was for the New South Wales team.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We originally voted £100 for railway fares and transport, and this shows the way in which the money was applied.

Senator MATHESON(Western Australia). - The explanation given does not apply to the vote of £107 to be found under division 87. I am very anxious to get this matter cleared up, because, when I went to see about the transportation of a rifle team from Western Australia to Williamstown, this year, I was told that a special grant could not be given, and that the money would have to be taken out of the amount which was set aside for travelling expenses. Therefore, the vote for travelling expenses wasreduced by that sum. In the case of other States, last year there was a special vote, so that, as is usual when there is any question of special expenditure, Western Australia has not been placed upon an equal footing with, the eastern States.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - This amount was not considered to be a proper charge against the ordinary vote for travelling expenses, and therefore a special vote is required. The Minister of the day requested the Treasurer to pay, out of his advance account, this amount for the pur- pose therein set forth. It was paid before the end of the financial year, and now the Parliament is asked to approve of what he did.

Senator Matheson - Because it was over and above the amount which had been provided on the Estimates for travelling expenses.

Senator PLAYFORD - I do not think so.

Senator MATHESON(Western Australia). - The Minister of Defence is not well posted in the accounts kept by his Department. This sum has had to be brought in as a special vote because it was over and above that which Had been voted in the ordinary Estimates for travelling expenses.

Senator Playford - Very likely.

Senator MATHESON - There has been that much less to spend in the State. This item of travelling expenses is of vital importance to the Rifle Association.

Senator Lt Col Gould - On page 29, under the head of " Rifle clubs and associations," the honorable senator will see an item of £110 for transport of rifle team to Western Australia from Victoria.

Senator MATHESON - That is quite right. It was all speciallyvoted last year; but in dealing with Western Australia this year the cost has been taken out of the amount which was voted on the Estimates for travelling expenses. I went into the matter with the Minister and his secretary, but they would not grant a special vote for this purpose.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The same course has been taken with every State. If the amount of the vote is not sufficient to cover the expenses, and the Minister approves of a further expenditure, he asks the Treasurer to give him an advance. In this case the Treasurer was asked for an advance, and the Parliament is now invited to approve of what he did.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - I should like theMinister to give the Committee some information concerning the item of £16, 118 for arrears under section 19 of the Victorian Act No. 1722.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - In moving the second reading of the Bill, I explained that a few days before the establishment of the Commonwealth the Victorian Parliament passed a special Bill to increase the salaries of a number of the officers in the Departments to be transferred. For a time we refused to pay the increases, but afterwards we found that they had to be paid, and they were paid in a lump sum. Of course, the additional expenditure has been charged to Victoria.

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to an item of £7 to satisfy a query of the Auditor-General in connexion with an over-payment of salary made in 1903-4. Can any one get paid by raising a query ? I have no doubt that there has been a proper gayment made. What is wrong is the way in which the item is worded.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - A man who was on sick leave happened to get paid £7 in excess of that which he ought to have been paid, and when he died we could not get a refund, and thereforewe had to pass ar> entry for the amount.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - I desire to ask the Minister if the practice of paying in advance is limited?

Senator Playford - Perhaps I made a little slip. This was really an overpayment to an officer who afterwards died.

Senator MILLEN - It appears that a payment was made to which at the time the recipient was not legally entitled.

Senator Playford - There was an overpayment of£7 to the man. The AuditorGeneral queried the payment, but in the meantime the man had died.

Senator MILLEN - It is to be hoped that in the Public Service the principle of paying in advance is not carried out to any great extent, otherwise items of this kind will frequently appear in the Estimates.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - At Christmas time I believe that officers are paid a good many days before the end of the month. When the honorable senator gets his salary paid before the end of the month he does not make a bother about it; in fact we have all been paid our salaries in advance this month.

Schedules agreed to.

Postponed clauses 2 and 3, and title, agreed to.

Bill reported without requests; report adopted.

Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages withoutdelay.

Bill read a third time.

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