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Thursday, 19 November 1959

Mr THOMPSON (Port Adelaide) . - In support of the remarks of the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee I should like to emphasize that honorable members should be aware of the fact that this committee's report dealing with the Advance to the Treasurer appears on the notice-paper as item 16. Until about three or four years ago Supplementary Estimates were presented to Parliament for consideration and approval. These related to amounts spent in the preceding financial year but which had not been included in the general estimates. As a result of an alteration in procedure the Statement of the Treasurer's Advance was substituted for the Supplementary Estimates. As the chairman has pointed out the committee discovered in a number of cases that the reason for unexpected expenditure under the Treasurer's Advance had been brought about by grave errors in estimating by various departments. This report will give honorable members the opportunity, when it is debated, to discuss not only the matters to which it refers but also the Statement of the Treasurer's Advance.

Honorable members should have a greater appreciation of the information supplied both in the Treasurer's Advance statement and in this report. Since the Public Accounts Committee first began to investigate the Supplementary Estimates there has been a great improvement in the estimating and expenditure by the various departments. There are not now so many excesses of either over-spending or underspending on the Estimates approved by Parliament as there were in the early days of the committee. Previously, when the Supplementary Estimates were discussed it was a post-mortem of expenditure by the various departments, but it was the best opportunity that honorable members had to consider whether the departments conducted their business and spent the money approved each year under general Estimates in the wisest way. I commend the report and hope that it will receive greater attention from honorable members than it has in the past, and also that honorable members will take up the questions on which the Public Accounts Committee has reported.

Ordered to be printed.

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