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COMMONWEALTH FINANCE.

The financial obligations of the Commonwealth began with the appointment of the Executive and the proclamation of the Constitution on the 1st January, 1901, at which date also the administration of the Customs passed over to the control of the Commonwealth. Besides the Customs and Excise, the Commonwealth has authority to take over from the States the administration of the following services, viz., posts, telegraphs, and telephones; naval and military defence; lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys ; astronomical and meteorological observations ; quarantine; census and statistics ; bankruptcy and insolvency; copyrights; naturalisation and aliens; divorce and matrimonial causes; and immigration and emigration.

In accordance with this power, the Postal Service was transferred to the Commonwealth on the 1st March, 1901, and on the same date the Defence Administration was taken over. None of the other departments have yet been transferred.

The expenditure of the Commonwealth is divisible into new expenditure, that is to say, on services called into being after the proclamation of the Federal Union, and other expenditure, or expenditure on services previously existing. The new expenditure is charged to the States proportionntely to their population, and the cost of transferred services over and above the revenue derived therefrom being ascertained, the total of the two amounts is deducted from the net revenue from ('toms and Excise, and the balance handed back to the States.

Under the provisions of Section 87 of the Constitution Act, the 'Irensurer of the Commonwealth is entitled to retain one-fourth of the Het proconds of Customs and Excise services for the purposes of defraying the inson of the Commonwealth, the remaining three-fourths, and #4 wc'h inore as the Treasurer does not require, being handed back to the Meals, It is, therefore, very essential in considering the question of Wesederal and State Finance to remember that, so far as concerns three

its of the net revenue derived from customs and excise, such revenue, ilmul appearing in the receipts of the Commonwealth, is not within thousalimul of Parliament, but must be returned to the States.

A large howrumt, in a normal year estimated at over seven and three-quarter willions, appears first as a federal receipt and a federal expenditure, wwdaunin an received by the States. Therefore in calculating the total

11441 by the Australian Governments, the amount returned to

by the Federal Treasurer should be deducted from the total

receipts. It is necessary, however, that the whole transactions of the Federal Treasurer should be shown both as to revenue and expenditure ; for, unless this is done, a proper understanding of Federal and State accounts cannot be obtained.

The financial year of the Commonwealth ends on the 30th June. Since the 1st January, 1901, there have been two periods, the first being the six months, January to June, 1901, and the second, the twelve months from 1st July, 1901, to 30th June, 1902. The first of these periods was quite abnormal, the transferred departments were not administered by the Commonwealth for the whole period, and there were some exceptional expenses by reason of the federal elections, and the cost of establishing the Commonwealth itself ; on the other hand the federal departments were not organised, and cost less than in an ordinary year.

OPERATIONS FOR HALF-YEAR ENDED 30TH JUNE, 1901. For the half-year ended 30th June, 1901, the following were the income and expenditure of the Treasurer :

Expenditure.

£
Customs and Excise 4,150,589 New services of Common-
Posts and Telegraphs

740,665
wealth

131,255 Other

4,502 Customs and Excise collec-
tion

121,443 Posts and Telegraphs 809,840 Military and Naval.

233,515 Balance carried to following year

5,974 Returned to States

3,593,729

Income.

£

£4,895,756

£4,895,756 During this period the State tariffs existing at the establishment of the Commonwealth remained in force, the uniform Customs tariff' with the abolition of interstate duties not coming into operation until some time later. The collections in each State were :

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Total

4,150,589

740,665

4,502

4,895,756

The expenditure on account of new Services distributed on a capitation basis, and the other expenditure chargeable to the States were as 10!lows:

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The difference between these figures and the amounts set out in the preceding table represents the payments which the States were entitled to receive under the provisions of Section 87 of the Constitution Act, and the sums handed back to each were as shown below.

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The financial operations of the Commonwealth for its first half-year call for no special comment, -the payments made and the sources of income were in continuation of those of the States; no new sources of revenue were entered on by the Commonwealth, while the amount of new expenditure was comparatively small.

OPERATIONS FOR YEAR ENDED 30TH JUNE, 1902. An entirely new set of conditions came into operation on the 9th October, 1902, when the schedule of uniform Customs duties was promulgated. Under the new conditions the interstate duties ceased, except,

Income.

as will be hereafter explained, in the case of Western Australia. The Federal Customs and Excise duties were in force for thirty-eight weeks and the state duties for fourteen weeks, while the Post Office and Defence Services were administered by the Commonwealth for the whole year.

The following is a statement of the transactions of the Federal Treasurer for the year.

Expenditure.

£ Balance brought forward

New Services of Common. from 30th June, 1901 ... 5,974 wealth

313,931 Customs and Excise

8,692,750 Customs and Excise collec-
tion

259,584 Posts and Telegraphs 2,364,873

Posts and Telegraphs 2,417,861 Customs collected on behalf

of Western Australia ... 201,569 Military and Naval ........ 935,416 'Other revenue 29,711 Other expenditure

17 Balance carried forward to

Returned to States

7,368,418 1902–3

350
Total

£11,295,227 Total......... £11,295,227

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The amount of revenue collected within each state was as shown in the following table. The Customs and Excise collections of Western Australia include £1,134,044 revenue from the Commonwealth tariff, and £201,569 from interstate duties.

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The distribution of the expenditure between the states was shown in the following table, the new expenditure as it is called being distributed amongst the states according to population, the other expenditure according to the states on behalf of which it was incurred.

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The difference between the collections and disbursements by the Commonwealth on behalf of the states was returned to the latter, and the following sums represent the amount in each case :

£ New South Wales

2,385,905 Victoria

1,920,974 Queensland

904,775 South Australia

616,148 Western Australia,

1,225,076 Tasmania

315,540

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PROBABLE REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE, 1902–3. The settlement of the tariff and the passage of the Postal Act enable the Federal Treasurer to forecast the probable revenue and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1903, with a reasonable assurance that the forecast will be realised. The following table indicates the revenue estimated to be received during the year :

State.

Customs and

Excise.

Poets and
Telegraphs.

Other
Revenue.

Total.

New South Wales..
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia..
Western Australia
Tasmania

£ 3,150,000 2,300,000 1,200,000

680,000 1,385,000

£ 887,500 620,900 323,500 268, 200 243,900 100,400

£ 3,140 4,595

280 1,689

128 872

£ 4,040,640 2,925,495 1,523,780

949,889 1,629,028

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340,000

441,272

Total

9,055,000

2,444,400

10,704

11,510,104

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