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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3385


Mr BEAZLEY (Minister for Aviation and Special Minister of State)(3.40) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to increase the size of membership of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 10 to 15. The need to increase the size was initially raised with the Government by Senator Georges, Chairman of the Committee, and it is supported by the Government. The Committee's role has been expanded in recent years and has resulted in an increased work load, expecially in its examination of the financial affairs of statutory and other government bodies and its examination of reports made to Parliament by the Auditor-General. Over the years, however, no provision has been made for an increase in the size of membership of the Committee and in fact its numbers have not been varied since 1951.

The Committee's program is large and deals with complex issues. An increase in membership would allow the establishment of an extra sectional committee, which would enable the Committee to keep pace with reports made by the Auditor-General and to ensure continuing proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Bill also provides for adjustments in the composition of the membership. Five members are to be appointed by the Senate and 10 members are to be appointed by the House of Representatives, reflecting the relative size of each House. In addition, the quorum requirement will be raised from four to six. The size of sectional committees will not be altered by the proposed amendments. I commend the Bill to the House.

Leave granted for debate to continue forthwith.