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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3495


Senator VIGOR(12.42) —I move:

Page 2, after clause 5, add the following clause:

``6. The Principal Act is amended by adding after section 37 the following section:

`Annual Report

`38. The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, cause a report on the operation of this Act during the year ending on that date, including details of-

(a) moneys paid into the Fund;

(b) moneys paid out of the Fund; and

(c) all projects and programs approved under Part III, including dates of commencement and conclusion of each project, and any variations of projects and programs,

to be laid before each House of the Parliament.'.''.

This amendment, as I said in the second reading debate, makes it a statutory requirement to have an annual report tabled in Parliament associated with this proposal. The Bicentennial Road Development Trust Fund Act requires an annual report and this would bring about symmetry between the two programs and a similar and sensible reporting system in which we do not overload the annual report of the Department of Transport with a lot of figures from both areas. We can obtain specific figures on each program separately. The Democrats have moved an amendment providing that under the Australian land transport program there should be a reporting structure and in our amendment we set out what is required in the annual report. That includes details of new projects and changes to projects in all road categories in all States. This would be a reasonable size document, but would give us knowledge of how the funds in this trust fund are being spent.

Under our proposed amendment to the Australian Land Transport (Financial Assistance) Act, as well as requiring the tabling we spell out what details of road projects will be required. Given the amount of public funds invested in road construction and maintenance, I believe that the public is entitled to have more access to information about the nature of this expenditure. Currently, especially with the cutting down of the freedom of information program, it may be difficult for people in the community to get direct information about specific projects which are funded under this scheme. People could go directly to the annual report which would save a considerable amount of Public Service time in answering specific questions as to how the money is being spent. I commend the amendment.