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Distribution of surplus.

94. After five years from the imposition of uniform duties of customs396, the Parliament may provide397, on such basis as it deems fair398, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenue of the Commonwealth399.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—Under the Bill of 1891 a similar provision took effect immediately after the imposition of uniform duties (see Historical Note, sec. 93).

Adelaide Session, 1897 (Debates, p. 1070).—The clause as drafted in Adelaide provided that after the five years “all surplus revenue over the expenditure of the Commonwealth shall be distributed month by month among the several States in proportion to the numbers of their people as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth.” In Committee, Mr. Reid secured the insertion of the explanatory words “Each State shall be deemed to contribute to the revenue an equal sum per head of the population.”

Melbourne Session, 1898 (Debates, pp. 775, &c., 1085–99, 2380–1).—The provision for ultimate distribution, as embodied in the Finance Committee's Report, was “on such basis as shall be fair to the several States, and in a proportion and after a method to be determined by the Parliament.” To make it clear that the Parliament alone was to be the judge of what was fair, these words were altered to “on the basis which the Parliament deems fair.” Sir George Turner still wished to keep to the per capita basis; and Mr. Glynn wished the discretion of the Parliament to be limited to postponing the per capita basis for, at most, another five years. However, the Finance Committee's proposal was carried by 25 to 17—the New South Wales representatives who were present voting solid for it, and the Victorians solid against it. Mr. Glynn then moved to add a further provision that after ten years the distribution should be per capita. The debate showed a general desire for ultimate per capita distribution—with the single exception of Sir John Forrest, who saw no prospect of its being fair to Western Australia. But Mr. Holder, Mr. Reid, and others wished it left open, being confident that the per capita system would be adopted as early as possible, but unwilling to tie the hands of the Parliament. The amendment was lost by 31 to 16—New South Wales and Victoria again voting solid with the majority and the minority respectively.

On the second recommittal Mr. Glynn again moved an amendment with the same object; but it was defeated by 23 to 14. Drafting amendments were made before the first Report, and after the fouth Report.




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