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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2333


Mr CADMAN —I present the 208th report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts relating to Finance minute on report 194- Expenditure from the Advance to the Minister for Finance (Appropriation Acts 1980-81). I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.


Mr CADMAN —The 208th report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts contains the Department of Finance minute on the Committee's earlier report No. 194 on expenditure from the Advance to the Minister for Finance, Appropriation Acts 1980-81. The Department of Finance minute is the formal mechanism used by the Government for responding to the Committee's recommendations. The Committee's 194th report, which examined departments' expenditure from the Advance to the Minister for Finance, was tabled in Parliament on 20 April 1982. In accordance with normal practice, the Committee obtained from departments 129 explanations relating to items from the Advance to the Minister for Finance in 1980-81. Four departments-the Department of Defence, the Department of Finance, the Department of Industry and Commerce and the Australian Federal Police-were selected for public examination, and additional written information was requested from a further 12 departments.

The only charge to the appropriations for the Advance to the Minister for Finance at the end of the financial year are urgent and unforeseen expenditures which arise between the time of preparation of the additional Appropriation Bills Nos 3 and 4 and the close of the financial year. In its examination, the Committee seeks to ascertain whether or not expenditure from the advance has been confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the original or additional Estimates. The Committee concluded that in most cases, expenditure was used according to the accepted guidelines. Notwithstanding this, the Committee resolved to act in closer consultation in future with the Department of Finance in examining departmental requests for funds from the Advance and their final explanations of expenditure.

The Committee is satisfied with the Department of Finance response to the 194th Report and notes that, as a result of the Committee's inquiry, policy revisions were effected to establish new procedures to apply to departments submitting applications for funds which will remain a final charge to the Advance in a certain year. The Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) has agreed that copies of all departmental applications for funds will remain a final charge to the Advance to the Minister for Finance at 30 June and be sent to the Public Accounts Committee as soon as possible after approval is granted. Unsuccessful applications for funds from the Advance classified as 'non-approved' by the Minister for Finance will not be sent to the Commitee. This arrangement supersedes the current after the end of the financial year procedure which requires departments to submit to the Committee explanations in respect of each amount that remains a final charge.

To assist the Committee in its assessment of the need for recourse to the Advance to the Minister for Finance, it will be necessary for departments to supply information which contain detail or which is supported in detail. Estimates explanations relating to the particular appropriation item as submitted to the Parliament in the Budget, and additional Estimates are suggested as possible supporting documents. Where an advance is for a new item, similar information is suggested. The applications submitted are to continue to justify the urgent and unforeseen criteria. Applications which do not address the criteria will not be approved. I commend the report to honourable members.