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Thursday, 20 November 1986
Page: 2609

Senator REYNOLDS —Has the Minister for Finance noticed reports of a Queensland Cabinet reshuffle which has failed to make any changes to the Treasury portfolio? What steps will the Federal Government take to monitor the accountability of the Queensland minority Government's spending of Commonwealth funds? Will the Minister ask his Department to oversee all contract letting for joint Federal-State projects so that the cronies of the Queensland National Party cannot manoeuvre for favoured treatment, as occurred in the recent contract for multi-million dollar Expo projects?

Senator WALSH —The Department of Finance exercises some oversight of most joint Commonwealth-State funded projects. However, I am not sure whether that applies to Expo contracts. I am not familiar with the contract to which Senator Reynolds refers but I presume that it went to some firm which gave the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation a big sling-in other words, the usual situation in Queensland. I will make inquiries and see what, if anything, can be done. On the demonstrable maladministration by the Queensland Government of the national disaster relief arrangements, last week I wrote to all State governments asking them in future to report to the Department of Finance all instances in which the recommendations of a State board have been overturned for political reasons as was done in the notorious Behan case in Queensland. I also sought their views on whether an applicant should be allowed to get loans from more than one source under more than one program. Again, in the Behan case, it would appear that Mr Behan had three separate loans. He had two loans apart from the one that the Queensland State Government directed that he receive, against the advice of the bank and the board. Finally, the letter seeks the views of the States on what ceiling should be placed on the total loan that may be obtained by an individual.