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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3094

Mr MARTIN (BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to statements made in a television program last night that the Government has run out of money and cannot meet its bills? Is this statement true, or is it another hysterical outburst by people who should know better?

Mr CREAN (MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - I can assure the honourable gentleman that the statement that the Government has run out of money is not true. Answering this question gives me the opportunity to inform people both inside the House and outside the House who ought to know better than to accept such a suggestion just what the circumstances are. Under parliamentary appropriation procedures no amount of money can be spent for any purpose until the authority of the Parliament has first been given. There are certain gaps in procedures due to time, and the money that is currently being spent for most purposes - what is known as Supply - is what was decided in the Supply measures which were introduced into the House in April and passed, I think, in May of 1973. Those measures gave what is known as Supply from the beginning of the new financial year, that is 1 July, to the end of November. In most years the Supply that is associated with the Budget passes both Houses by the end of November, and usually there is not very much difficulty about bridging between the commencement of the financial year and that time. However, this year, because of the very difficult legislative program in both this House and another place, Supply is later in being granted this year than is usually the case.

I have some information which shows that during the 20-year period from 19S2 to 1972 there was only one other instance of the Estimates not having been passed early in November, and that was in 1971. On 9 November 1971 the then Government, of which the Leader of the Opposition was the Treasurer and at which time I happened to be shadow treasurer, introduced an additional Supply Bill for $138m which passed this House, I am told, in 9 minutes and passed the Senate in about an equivalent time. Meanwhile we were able normally to go on with the Estimates debate. I intend tomorrow to bring down a Supply Bill for a much less sum than $138m. Honourable members will see what is in it. They will have the opportunity to debate it, I hope, shortly, because any time taken unnecessarily on that which is purely a technical measure limits the time for debate on other matters which I think honourable members want to debate more fully.

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