Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 8 April 1965

The PRESIDENT - There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator WEDGWOOD - For many years successive Committees have recognised the need to provide members of the Parliament, departments, universities and other institutes of research with a current index of their reports. With this in mind, reports have been presented by your Committee in 1958, 1959 and 1962 which have provided a progressive index of its reports brought before the Parliament. The sixty-ninth report, which consists of a revised index, covers the first 68 reports submitted by the Committee. The method of compilation of this index is similar to that adopted previously. Topics have been listed under main headings, and the number of the report and page, or the first of a succession of pages, in that report where the topic concerned may be found is then indicated.

The seventieth report relates to the reports of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1964. As honorable senators will know, your Committee is specifically directed by the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951 to examine .each statement and report of the Auditor-General. The seventieth report relates to a detailed examination of criticisms raised by the Auditor-General and public inquiries subsequently held by the Committee.

The seventieth report relates to only four matters referred to by the Auditor-General in his reports for 1963-64. We believe that this reflects the value of the work of the Committee in this field in recent years and indicates generally that improvements have occurred in the quality of the work subject to audit by the Auditor-General. At the same time, however, the present inquiry has highlighted the need for your Committee to continue, each year, to examine the reports of the Auditor-General as provided under the Act. But for the present examination, the matters relating to telephone debtors of the Postmaster-General's Department which are referred to in chapter II of the report may have passed unnoticed.

In regard to telephone debtors we found that, commencing in 1960, the Department had taken a decision to abolish a system whereby telephone services were transferred from one subscriber to another. In making the change, however, the Department failed to collect telephone rentals in advance from successive subscribers to the service. Your Committee is of the opinion that, in setting aside this important principle which has characterised Post Office services generally over many years, the Department lost its valuable deterrent against defaulting subscribers, permitted accounts to be established without the protection of any prepayments and placed an undue strain on the resources of the Commonwealth Police Force and the Crown Solicitor's Office due to their involvement in the recovery processes.

The other matter of major importance arising from this report to which I would refer is your Committee's inquiry into the financial statements of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits, Board and the Superannuation Board. This inquiry showed that for many years these boards have operated under considerable difficulties occasioned by large fluctuations of work loads, arising mainly from changes in legislation and pay codes. Your Committee undertook a thorough examination of the circumstances of the boards and it believes that, apart from dealing with the problems of immediate concern, this chapter of the report will be of considerable interest to honorable senators and those sections of the community which have a direct and continuing interest in the operations of both boards. I move -

That the papers be printed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Suggest corrections