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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2894

Senator MICHAEL BAUME(4.12) —I wish to deal with a specific line relating to national mapping, but before I do I think there is a need for me to respond to what the Minister has just said. I remind him that he has denied honourable senators an appropriate Budget debate. There has not been a Budget debate here this session because the Government has other priorities. It has preferred to bring forth other legislation rather than to have these Appropriation Bills debated straightforwardly. I will not be lectured to by Senator Evans on such a phoney basis. I must say, I accept the Temporary Chairman's point about our making second reading debate speeches, but when this Governments sets out to limit and prohibit the capacity of honourable senators to undertake such speeches in a far more appropriate way than by doing it, if you like, by subterfuge in this kind of debate--

Senator Gareth Evans —Thank you for your acknowledgment.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I acknowledge the Minister's point; I am just saying that his point is appallingly made and that I am astounded that he has the hide to make it in the dreadful circumstances that he himself has created.

Senator Gareth Evans —Synthetic indignation has always been your forte. You do it very well.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I notice that the Minister does not go to the burden of whether it is accurate or not.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Order! I think it would help the Committee if we stuck to particular lines of reference.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Mr Temporary Chairman, I simply was seeking to prevent an unchallenged nonsensical statement remaining in the record. Now I want to deal with the question of national mapping. Senator MacGibbon quite properly raised questions in the Senate Estimates committee hearings relating to this matter and sought some sort of answer to a question about the extent to which there was, if you like, duplication of mapping expenditure between governments and asked what was the total amount of expenditure by governmental mapping authorities. The question was taken on notice. Subsequently we have been advised as follows:

The Division of National Mapping is unable to supply details on the cost to the Australian public of all Commonwealth and State mapping agencies. The Director of National Mapping chairs the National Mapping Council which co-ordinates mapping programs but does not monitor funds of members.

It seems extraordinary that we cannot get this kind of information. Certainly for three States the information was provided and obviously very large amounts are involved, something like $20m for Queensland, $14m on surveying and mapping for the Commonwealth, along with another $2m for the Australian Landsat Station, another $2m for Tasmania with 80 officers and $10m for South Australia with 327 officers. The point made at the beginning of the response from the Division of National Mapping is this:

It is estimated that surveying and mapping in Australia is a $1,000 million a year industry which employs almost 20,000 people in the public and private sectors.

In those circumstances I think it is reasonable to ask: What is the capacity of the Commonwealth to find out what public moneys in total are being spent? To what extent is there duplication between Commonwealth to find out what public moneys in total are being spent? To what extent is there duplication between Commonwealth and State instrumentalities? What action is the Government taking to eliminate any overlapping of governmental services in this area? Why could not the Commonwealth tell us what the other Commonwealth mapping authorities are spending and what are their staffing numbers? For example, there is the Australian Survey Office, the Australian hydrographer, the Royal Australian Survey Corps. Does the Government know what those figures are, and what is the Government doing about it?