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Thursday, 24 August 1972
Page: 459

Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice*.

(1)   How much expenditure was incurred by the Government recently in assisting Australian citizens who were stranded in Singapore by Travel House of Australia

(2)   What action is contemplated by the Government to obtain financial compensation from Travel House of Australia?

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) (Minister for Works) The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   Although some special funds were sent to the High Commissioner, Singapore, in the event, it was not necessary to draw on these funds. The stranded passengers proceeding to Europe were able to make private arrangements with Saber Airline and British Caledonia Airline. Passengers travelling to Australia accepted financial arrangements proposed by Qantas for their onward movement. Under the normal vote of the High Commission some passengers obtained small amounts to meet personal commitments in Singapore but accounts have not yet been finalised.

(2)   The question of financial compensation is a private legal matter for those concerned.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) Senator Willesee asked me a question relating to reports on overcharging by the United States Services which was included in the Auditor-General's Report. Subsequently in replying to a question from Senator Bishop I gave details in relation to my own Department and indicated how these errors had arisen. I now have the circumstances as the Auditor-General's Report affected Navy and Army. The situation is as follows: The greater part of the possible overcharges of $US900,000 for all Services related to one order for the purchase of Skyhawk aircraft for the Royal Australian Navy. The billing from the United States, which was offset against advance payments already made for these aircraft pending its certification in Australia, included, incorrectly, costs for services arranged separately by the Australian Government. Adjustment action was initiated when the overcharge was brought to light by the audit check in advance of the Navy check of these billings in Australia.

I am advised that the discrepancies would have been detected in due course under the normal procedures operating here. In so far as the Army is concerned, there has been no overcharging included in the $US900,000 report in the AuditorGeneral's Report. As I stated in my answer to Senator Bishop my Department was involved in the overcharge to- an amount of $33,485 of which all but $4,720 has now been adjusted. Steps are in hand to examine this particular remaining amount within my Department and my Department is also reviewing procedures to ensure this situation does not arise again.

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