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Thursday, 1 December 1960


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Monaro) . - I move-

That the following new clause be inserted in the the bill:- " (4.) After section eleven of the Principal Act, the following section is inserted: - 11a. The provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960 shall apply in relation to works and buildings proposed to be constructed by the Commission in like manner as they apply in relation to public works proposed to be constructed by the Commonwealth.'.".

Of a total of £27,387,000 provided for civil works, £10,500,000 is appropriated for Canberra works under the control of the National Capital Development Commission, and as the commission is a statutory authority, works undertaken from funds under its control are not subject to the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act. An opinion on this matter by the AttorneyGeneral's Department states, in part: -

The Public Works Committee Act does not permit either the Minister or the House to refer to the Committee works proposed to be constructed by a Statutory Authority of the Commonwealth.

Where Parliament creates a statutory authority, the constituent act will usually invest in the authority itself the power to decide what works it will require to carry out. The statute will usually authorize the construction of these works, subject, of course, where appropriate, to the necessary funds being available.

Section IS of the act refers to public works which are, broadly, those works in the control of, or at least in the initiative, of the Executive Council. Statutory authorities set up by the Commonwealth are not, in general, included in the expression " the Commonwealth ".

If a work decided upon by a statutory authority pursuant to its special act were referred to the committee, a veto would in substance be given to the House of Representatives upon the exercise by the statutory authority of the powers which had been conferred upon it by the Parliament.

For the reasons outlined, therefore, works provided from funds under the control of the National Capital Development Commission are not subject to the Public Works Committee Act.

Whilst the committee is aware that the commission was set up as a statutory authority to give it maximum freedom in the orderly planning and development of the National Capital, it is not convinced that parliamentary supervision is undesirable. The committee, therefore, suggests that consideration might be given to providing the Parliament, through the agency of the Public Works Committee, with the means of informing itself on major projects to be undertaken by the National Capital Development Commission in the development of Canberra as the National Capital. This could be achieved by an amendment of the National Capital Development Commission Act to incorporate the provision of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act, 1924, which, in relation to the Federal Capital Commission, stated -

The provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921 shall apply in relation to works and buildings proposed to be constructed by the Commission in like manner as they apply in relation to public works proposed to be constructed by the Commonwealth.







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