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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3104

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I ask leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-

This Bill is a machinery measure designed to meet legal and constitutional requirements associated with the Government's financial transactions and accounting arrangements. Honourable senators will be aware that the Australian Government's transactions are recorded in 3 separate funds- the Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Loan Fund and the Trust Fund. Current estimates of the Government's financial transactions indicate that expenditures in 1 974-75 on items which would normally be charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund would exceed receipts of that fund.

The normal procedure followed in the past to cover a prospective deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund has been to charge some expenditures which would normally be met from that fund to another fund. This Bill is designed to permit such a procedure. The Bill authorises that borrowings be made for defence purposes so that, to the extent necessary, defence expenditures in the remaining months of the year can then be charged to the Loan Fund rather than the Consolidated Revenue Fund, thus avoiding a deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The

Bill does not, I should stress, seek to authorise any additional expenditures; its purpose is simply to reallocate part of expenditures on defence services specified in the Appropriation Acts for 1974-75 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Loan Fund.

At this stage of the year, with a high proportion of the year's receipts and expenditures still to be incurred, the size of the prospective Consolidated Revenue Fund deficit is particularly difficult to forecast. For this reason the Bill before the Senate does not specify a fixed amount of borrowings. Rather, it seeks authority to borrow amounts not in excess of what is considered necessary to avoid a deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Bills making a similar provision were passed by the Parliament in 1968, 1970 and 1971. To summarise: The proposed Act is a conventional machinery measure. It does not authorise any increase in expenditures; its essential purpose is to re-allocate expenditures approved by Parliament between the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Loan Fund. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.

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