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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 248

Question No. 298

Mr Ruddock asked the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice , on 26 May 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts' recent report on the Canberra Commercial Development Authority.

(2) Has he determined not to proceed with the sale of the Belconnen Mall; if so , will the comments of the Public Accounts Committee concerning certain directors be taken into account when reconstructing the board of the Authority.

Mr Uren —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) The Government has withdrawn the Belconnen Mall from sale.

The Governor-General made appointments to the Canberra Commercial Development Authority on 3 June 1983. In making recommendations for appointments the Government had regard to the findings of the Public Accounts Committee's 181st Report. The Government accepted the need to appoint a nominee of the Permanent Head of the Department of Territories and Local Government. It did not accept the recommendations that those subject to criticism in the Report not be re- appointed.

The Committee had recommended that the Attorney-General initiate a full investigation into the security of tender documents relating to contracts for the construction of the Belconnen Mall. In January 1982 the former Attorney- General advised the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that on the evidence available to him neither the Chairman of the Authority nor a contractor to the Authority has been involved in committing any illegal or unlawful act. The Attorney-General was of the opinion that the claims of impropriety consisted of 'unsubstantiated allegations' and 'hearsay'. The Committee concluded that it found no evidence of impropriety on the part of any member of the board or the staff of the Authority. Furthermore the then Attorney-General has found that specific allegations recommended by the Committee for further enquiry were unsubstantiated.