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Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1036


Senator REYNOLDS —Is the Minister for Finance aware that Queensland is the only Australian State not having a public accounts committee? Does this failure concern the Finance Minister when millions of Federal Government money is allocated to Queensland without any public accountability system being in place in that State? Will the Minister ask that this problem be raised at the forthcoming Premiers Conference so that Queensland is asked to comply with Westminster parliamentary procedure established for over 100 years?


Senator WALSH —Senator Reynolds asked three questions. The first was whether I am aware of the fact that Queensland is the only State without a public accounts committee. Yes, I am. The second question was whether this concerns me. I guess the answer also has to be yes, although what we can do about it I am not sure. It concerns me but it does not surprise me that there is no public accounts committee in the Queensland Parliament because one does not have to delve too far into the record of the Queensland Government to understand why it would not want any scrutiny or accountability of its expenditures or to have those expenditures opened up to wider scrutiny and to be made more accountable for them. For example, $5m was diverted from other areas in Queensland to build a dam on the Mackenzie River for the primary benefit of the Premier's son. It is also a matter of public record that Mr Bjelke-Petersen's would-be successor, Mr Hinze, has been a direct beneficiary--


Senator Chaney —Mr President, I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to Standing Order 418 and to the reflections which Senator Walsh is making upon members of the House of Parliament of Queensland. I ask you to bring the Minister to order.


The PRESIDENT —I admit that it is getting close to the bone, but I have listened carefully and I do not think that there is a point of order involved. Therefore, I do not uphold the point of order; but I ask Senator Walsh to be careful in his expressions in relation to members of this Parliament and members of other parliaments.


Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr President, but the matters to which I have referred are matters of public record. They do help one to understand-in fact, I think they provide a complete explanation-why the Queensland Government is reluctant to have a public accounts committee. By way of interjection a while ago Senator Evans said: 'Tell us about Milan Brych'. As far as I know, nobody in the Queensland Government got a quid out of Milan Brych, although they did adopt him, along with Stephen Horrath and Dr Shrian Oskar. I invite anybody who wants to know who they are to come along to my office later. The final question was whether I would ask that this matter be raised at the forthcoming Premiers Conference. I will ask the Treasurer whether it can be raised, but from my understanding of the subject I am afraid that there is not very much the Premiers Conference could do about it.