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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2216


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


Senator MCAULIFFE - The Committee has, for many years, conducted combined inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund but has tabled separate reports on both aspects of these inquiries. The One Hundred and Forty-seventh Report relates specifically to evidence taken by the Committee in connection with expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer in 1972-73. As honourable senators are aware, after the close of each financial year, the Treasurer submits to the Parliament for its consideration and approval a statement of expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer showing allocations to heads of expenditure made by him from the Advance under section 36a of the Audit Act. The Committee carries out the parliamentary scrutiny of this past expenditure by obtaining explanations from departments for each item of expenditure charged to the Advance and selecting the more notable of these for public inquiry.

In Chapter 1 of the Report the Committee has stated that, in examining expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, it has sought to ascertain whether or not expenditure from the Advance has been confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the original and additional Estimates. The Committee has also sought to ascertain whether or not the departments concerned in the inquiry have maintained efficient administration in the expenditure of funds under the items selected for public inquiry. As the report shows, there were cases where expenditure from the Advance to the 'Treasurer was confined to urgent and unforeseeable requirements for which provision could not have been made in the Appropriation Acts. In other cases, however, there was evidence of clerical errors, inefficient estimating procedures, and delays which caused expenditure to be charged to the Advance when provision should properly have been made in the Additional Estimates. Attention has been drawn to these inadequacies where they have been discovered.

As in several previous inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer, the Committee has found evidence of amounts being charged to the Advance without warrant authority, in contravention of Treasury Regulation 90 ( 1 ). All of these overcharges arose from clerical errors. The Committee had cause to comment adversely on the briefness of some departmental explanations and the fact that some witnesses appearing before the Committee were inadequately briefed. I commend the Report to honourable senators.







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