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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2895

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(4.16) —Senator Michael Baume may or may not be pleased to know that I agree with him that this area is probably the last great frontier of irrationality in Australian public administration. I share his despair at the inability of the various Commonwealth agencies, let alone everybody else, to get their act together over recent years. It has been the subject of a great deal of attention over recent years and a great deal of wrangling. It has been the product, finally, of the Richardson report in the last few months, which is presently the subject of active consideration by my Department and the Department of Defence in particular as the two departments most immediately concerned. I would like to hope that there will be some rational resolution of this matter and a more rational allocation of both manpower and capital in the future than there manifestly has been in the past.

The National Mapping Council, chaired by Mr Veenstra, the Director of the Division of National Mapping, is not a body with executive authority. It was given co-ordinating functions but, regrettably, not the executive authority to go with it. As a result it has had difficulty in extracting information or exercising the sort of authority that is needed to be an effective co-ordinator as distinct from spectator. I frankly acknowledge that there are problems. I do not gloss over them. I do not pretend otherwise. This needs a lot of attention and it is getting a lot of attention at the moment.