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Friday, 19 July 1946

Mr Fadden n asked the Acting Attorney-General, upon notice -

1.   What account or accounts, fund or funds, special or otherwise, have been established or have existed since the 7th October, 1941, to date, in - (i) the Security Branch, (ii) the Crown Solicitor's Branch, (Hi)' the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, and (iv) any other branch of his department, from which - (a), the Auditor-General has not been allowed to audit the disbursements in detail, and/or tq which there is no Auditor-General's certification in detail, and/or (b) receipts for money disbursed arc not either (i) kept and/or (ii) demanded from recipients of moneys therefrom, and/or (o) the disbursements were audited by a special auditor and not in the ordinary way by the Auditor-General?. 2. What amounts of public money have been (ft) paid into and (b) disbursed from each of the above accounts or funds, seriatim, which have been kept secret from the. AuditorGeneral or hia officers in the manner mentioned in paragraph (1) (a), and paragraph (1) (b), and paragraph (1) (c), respectively?

3.   What are the names, if any of all accounts mentioned in (1) (a), (1) (6) and (1) (e), respectively?

4.   Have moneys from any of the abovementioned accounts and/or funds been used either directly or through any Commonwealth instrumentality or otherwise to control, police and/or investigate communism or communistic activities, and/or any persons, matters or things associated in any way whatsoever with the Communist party of Australia?

Mr Holloway - The information is being obtained and a reply' will be furnished as soon as possible.

Mr Fadden n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   Has he yet considered the comment of the Auditor-General in his latest report in which be suggests a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Audit Act?

2.   Has the review yet been made; if not, when is it intended to make it?

3.   What was the name of the authority which refused to produce documents and files required in the audit of the accounts of a department, to which the Auditor-General referred in his report?

4.   What was the reason for such refusal and what was the nature of the accounts?

5.   What was the department concerned?

Mr Chifley - The answers to the right honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Yes.

2.   A review of the provisions of the Audit Act has been proceeding in the Treasury for some time.

3.   The authorities concerned were the Naval

Charter Bates Board and the Prices Commissioner.

4.   The Naval CharterRates Board held that it was a semi-judicial body whose decisions are final and that it was not competent for the Auditor-General to review those decisions. This view was supported by the SblicitorGeneral. The board further maintained that if the Auditor-General were permitted access to and comments on documents' upon which its decision was reached, the independence and impartiality of the board could be challenged by the other party concerned in the decision. The Prices Commissioner took the view that owing to the secrecy clauses of the National Security (Prices) Regulations, he was unable to make available to the Auditor-General documents relating to price stabilization subsidies.

5.   The Naval Charter Bates. Board operates under the Department of the Navy, and the Prices Commissioner under the Department of Trade and Customs.

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