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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1799

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) (Treasurer) - Firstly I would ask the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), instead of looking only at page 124, to look at page 128. He would find that the $32,500,000-

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - One hundred and thirty-two.

Mr CREAN - Thirty-two million dollars That is the major part of the difference between $91m and $132m. It is to cover increased salary payments as a result of recent awards to all sections of the Public Service and not to the Treasury in particular. That makes a fundamental difference to the kind of remarks the honourable member made. I think that some of his other general observations were just as inaccurate in the total context. I do not want to say anything more on that subject because one scarcely replies to abysmal ignorance of that kind. I am trying to be as kind as I can, but I suggest that it shows what little attempt is made in these Estimates to look at what the expenditure is supposed to be about. After all, the Estimates are details of what the Government expects to spend on certain purposes for the period to 30 June 1974. I do not want to say anything more about that.

But I would say, in response to the many general remarks that have been made, that I will take note of certain comments that have been made and, whilst I cannot reply to all of them tonight, I will endeavour to supply the honourable members with detailed replies for which they asked. In relation to the

DeputyLeader of the Liberal Party (Mr Lynch) who now leads for his Party in these matters, I would suggest that some of the things he has asked me to give definitive answers upon are scarcely relevant in an estimates debate. 1 assure him that I intend to make a statement as soon as I possibly can about the recent meetings of the Committee of Twenty, of the annual meeting of the Board of the Bank and of the International Monetary Fund. He will be given an opportunity to reply in detail. I hope that as well as making a speech I will be able to attach to it, as I did upon a previous occasion, some of the areas of difficulty. In many respects, I suppose, the annual meeting of the Bank and the Fund were disappointing because they did not achieve what some people thought they ought to achieve. I do not think that anyone who had closely followed the deliberations of the Committee of Twenty would have been surprised that no final answers were given. I felt that all that had been achieved at the Washington March meetings was to get agreement as to what the areas of disagreement were. To propound solutions to these disagreements one will have to await a meeting which is scheduled for late January and another one perhaps in April or May 1974. It is hoped that there will be something for the next annual meeting which will take place in September or October 1974-

Mr Lynch - I would be happy to go with you.

Mr CREAN - I am not too sure that at times it would not be a bad idea if some members of the Opposition as well as of the Government attended some of these meetings just as they do at the United Nations. It certainly was never done to me when I was the shadow Treasurer. It may have made it easier for me to realise the difference between substance and shadow earlier than I did. However, that is by the way. I find a little inconsistency, if I may say so, in the complaints about increasing the total of employment in the Public Service and the demands which some of the former Ministers are now making for additional research staff. I think that this shows how poverty stricken they left the office of Opposition, not knowing that they would soon be the inheritors of it. I must say that I am not unkind towards their submissions because I think the debates in this Parliament would be better if they were better informed. The honourable gentleman who preceded me is a pretty good example of that. Had he come and talked to me a few minutes earlier 1 might have been able to illustrate the point to him and perhaps save 10 minutes of the time of the Parliament. But I thank those members who have asked seriously for details on matters that concern them. I do not want to trespass on the time of other estimates but, as I have indicated, I assure them that I shall endeavour to provide more detailed replies for them.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs

Proposed expenditure, $89,326,000.

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