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Wednesday, 1 August 1906
Page: 2156

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) . - I quite agree with the honorable member for Echuca that efficiency should be the first consideration, but I do not think we should pass measures of this kind without having some idea of the expense involved. I have already stated that the Commonwealth is the proper authority to control such a Department, and I hope that its administration will prove of the utmost benefit to the people. The Minister tells us that, under the arrangement made at the Hobart Conference, the States will debit the Commonwealth with the cost of any services rendered by them in connexion with the new Department.

Mr.Groom. - That applies to all Departments.

Mr FISHER - Although the Minister indicates that the payment for such service will in certain cases be made by a mere book entry, it will be a somewhat serious matter as between the Commonwealth and the States, because it will involve a further drain upon our fourth of the Customs revenue, instead of the cost being charged to the threefourths share that falls to the States. I am confident that the present Minister will exercise economy, but, as is often said, we do not know what future Ministers might do. The principle of the Bill is perfectly sound, and I do not wish it to be thought for a moment that I am taking the slightest exception to it. I trust that the services rendered by the new Department will more than compensate the public for any expense that it may entail.

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