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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1665

Senator COATES —On behalf of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, I present an interim report on non-statutory bodies of the Commonwealth.

Ordered that the report be printed.

Senator COATES —by leave-Since 1977, the Committee on Finance and Government Operations has maintained a continuing oversight of the financial and administrative affairs of Commonwealth statutory authorities. However, the Committee has been aware that another large group of bodies, those which are neither departments nor statutory authorities, has remained outside its area of investigation. These bodies, the so-called non-statutory bodies-NSBs-are established by a method other than legislation, for instance by Order-in-Council , by agreement between Federal and State governments or by ministerial announcement.

The Committee regards this report as an introduction to its work on NSBs. The data collected through a survey conducted by the Committee has been used to establish some of the background facts on NSBs. The Committee has also analysed the data to indicate areas where further investigation is required, and 307 NSBs were identified. In future reports, the Committee will investigate the accountability of non-statutory bodies; the need for guidelines for their creation and operation; the mechanism for review of NSBs; the financial arrangements of NSBs; and their categorisation. In the meantime the Committee recommends that each department include in its annual report a list summarising all NSBs in that portfolio. The Committee believes that this will at least make the task of monitoring NSBs a little easier in the future.

I express the Committee's thanks to Gary Simpson, who was temporarily a research officer with the Committee, for his work on this subject, particularly in analysing the results of our survey, and, of course, to the continuing members of the staff of the Committee.

I also table on behalf of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations a list of Commonwealth statutory authorities and I seek leave to make a statement about that report.

Leave granted.

Senator COATES —The Committee, as part of its continuing scrutiny of the affairs of Commonwealth statutory authorities, has maintained a list of authorities. The Committee published the complete list in its fifth report presented to the Senate in September 1982, and alterations to the list were tabled in December last year. This report contains a summary of alterations to the list since December 1983. Two authorities have been abolished, while the Australian Electoral Office was abolished and re-established as the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian National Railways Commission was re-established under the Australian National Railways Act 1983. Twenty-three new authorities were established during the same period. The report also contains a categorised list of all authorities which updates the list contained in the Commitee's fourth report and incorporates alterations to categorisation suggested by particular authorities with which the Committee agrees.