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Tuesday, 28 April 1987
Page: 1872

Senator LEWIS(3.23) —I wish to move:

That the Parliament House Construction Authority annual report 1985-86 be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations for consideration and report.

I wish to do so--

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Lewis, the only motion you can move is that the Senate take note of the paper. If you wish to move for a reference to a Senate standing committee, you will have to seek leave or give notice.

Senator LEWIS —At this stage I simply move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I will give notice later for consideration tomorrow. The reason I wanted to move what I had indicated before is, quite frankly, that this report which has been tabled by the Parliament House Construction Authority is a trick. This Authority has dealt shamefully with the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the New Parliament House. We are not going to allow this Authority to deal with the Parliament shamefully. I draw honourable senators' attention to page 47, which contains the Auditor-General's report. This report is quite clearly only part of a report, because the last paragraph states:

I shall be reporting to you separately about the audit of the Authority's accounts and records. Completion of that audit awaits receipt of certain additional information expected soon from the Authority.

At the date the Auditor-General wrote this letter to the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes), the audit was not complete. He was awaiting additional information-expected soon-from the Authority. This report contains what appears to be a report by the Auditor-General, but it is defective. It is not a report at all because, as the Auditor-General says, it does not contain an audit of the Authority's accounts and records. So once again a statutory authority has tried to trick this Parliament by tabling a report which is incomplete, thinking that it will be able to get away with it.

Quite frankly, the Senate is sick of this sort of thing happening repeatedly with statutory authorities. Once again, I call on members of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations. I do not know where we would be without that Committee, which is constantly trying to chase up statutory authorities of this Parliament to make sure that they fulfil their obligations. Frankly, this constant attempt by statutory authorities to mislead Parliament through this sort of device is no longer acceptable. As I say, this Authority has treated the Joint Parliamentary Committee shamefully. It has not co-operated with it in the way that it should. We will not allow it to get away with this.

The Authority has an appalling record in relation to industrial blackmail being used by the union movement. Strikes have repeatedly delayed construction of the new Parliament House. I draw the Minister's attention to the appendix to the report where, on page 63, a summary of the impact of industrial disputes is set out. According to the Authority, 38.9 working days have been lost in the period of the report, from July 1985 to June 1986, due to inclement weather. Can one believe that that massive structure up there, which has had its roof on for so long, has-according to the report-seen 38.9 working days lost out of a total of only 230 working days in a full year due to inclement weather? Further, 80.9 working days have been lost due to industrial disputes. Of course, the reference to inclement weather is included because the industrial disputes kept the roof off the project for a while. Therefore, in effect, as a result of industrial disputation the Authority has lost 52 per cent of the working days available in one year. What has been happening with the union movement is quite disgraceful. I hope that the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations will in due course examine this report and report to the Senate about the attempt by the Parliament House Construction Authority to mislead us.