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Thursday, 7 August 1930

Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) . - I refrained from speaking earlier on this bill, or in connexion with the Sales Tax Bills because I desired to say a few words at this stage. They are prompted by the attack which Senator Greene made yesterday on the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), who was Treasurer in the late Government. Senator Greene accused Dr. Earle Page of having misled the members of this Parliament, and the people generally, in the presentation of his budget statements. The honorable senator quoted deficits and surpluses from 1921-22 to 1929-30. He gave the deficits and surpluses for those years, and said that his figures gave the real deficiencies and surpluses for those years. J. have examined the budget statement for 1928-29, and also that for the financial year 1929-30, and I find that the figures quoted by Senator Greene are exactly the same as those given by Dr. Earle Page in the budgets mentioned. Although Senator Greene said that Dr. Earle Page's figures were misleading, he himself quoted them as being correct. I regard his statement as a reflection, not only on Dr. Earle Page, but also on the members of this Senate who based their demand for economy on the figures quoted in the budget. When an amount is allocated to trust funds, the whole of it is debited to expenditure in the budget. For instance, each year £2,000,000 is allocated for Federal Aid main roads. But the Auditor-General, in his report, says that that is not the actual expenditure for the year. He takes the expenditure from the trust fund into account, which is often not nearly so great. On page 10 of his report for 1928-29, the Auditor-General stated -

It will thus be seen that the 1928-29 budget, covering the transactions for 1927-28, showed a deficiency of £5,450,237, while an analysis of the expenditure revealed a deficiency of £4,209,492, or £1,240,745 less than the budget figure.

If we take the basis adopted by the Auditor-General, then Dr. Earle Page's figures for that year would have shown a more satisfactory condition of affairs to the extent of £1,240,745. On the 30th June, 1928, there was an unexpended balance of £5,178,049 in the trust fund. On the 30th June, 1929, the unexpended balance was £3,141,483. Honorable senators will therefore see that, if the method advocated by Senator Greene had been adopted, the expenditure of the Bruce-Page Government would not have appeared so large as it did in Dr. Earle Page's budgets.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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