16. Difference in the Commonwealth Grant
Paul Quinlivan’s Snapshots
There can be no better indication of the difference between the early 50s and, say, the mid 60s and 70s than the report in The South Pacific Post, in its issue of 16 September 1953 that, “The Administration will receive an increased grant from the Commonwealth Government this financial year. The 1953-54 grant will be £5½ million, which is £30,000 more than the 1952-53 figure.” This was thrilling news because, up until then, we had all been led to believe that the grants from Australia would soon be reduced and the Territory would have to rely entirely on internal raisings.
A little further down the report, however, it said, “The handing over of stevedoring to private enterprise meant a reduction in collections. In 1951-52 the Administration received £79,000 from stevedoring charges and had budgeted for an estimated £50,000 for 1952-53,” so 29 of the 30 thousand was already eaten up and the report went on to say that, “Mr Reeve said internal revenue had also shown a drop in the collection of Customs Duties (due to) import restrictions,” so, since those restrictions had been imposed by Canberra, the increase was actually a loss. To give some measure of scale for the five and a half million I would point out that, on 14 June 1962, there were complaints (see Legislative Council Debates of that date at page 491) that £5.8 million was in the latest estimates for the provision of housing for just the Design Staff of the Public Works Department who, of course, would all be newcomers to the Territory.