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Tuesday, 4 September 1906

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - It is not a question of voting a large sum, and of being able to spend only one-half of it within the year. We do not know whether we shall be able to expend the whole of the vote; we do not know what trouble may arise in connexion with contracts. I have an explanation of all the items to which the honorable senator has referred as representing re-votes. I find that all the works on the 30th June last were unfinished, and are in progress at the present time. There is still a large sum to be paid in respect of them. This position of affairs arises wherever responsible Government prevails and Estimates have to be passed. A Minister has to provide for certain works, but cannot say when preparing his Estimates whether he will be able to expend within the financial year the whole amount for which he asks. In many instances he cannot do so. The whole thing, however, balances itself. On the one side of the ledger the Minister has a statement of the works authorized, but not completed, and on the other side he has some excesses of votes set out. In South Australia the excesses of votes were generally equal to the unexpended balances. We used to bring them forward, and the unexpended balances required to be re-voted. That is the position here. I am advised, for instance, that the post office at Bangalow has been authorized and a contract will be let shortly, that the work of constructing the Kurri Kurri post office - a brick building - has also been authorized, and the contract is in progress, whilst the Mosman post office is almost completed.

Senator Dobson - I have been accustomed to a different system.

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