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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1717

Senator WILLESEE (Western AustraliaMinister for Foreign Affairs and Special Minister of State) - I move:

That the amendment made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.

Honourable senators will recall that earlier this year I introduced into the Senate this Bill which proposes to amend section 18 (8) of the Public Works Committee Act to increase the mandatory limit for works considered by the Public Works Committee from $750,000 to $2m. Honourable senators opposite saw fit to move and pass an amendment to this Bill which, in its intention, would require the Public Works Committee to examine all capital works in excess of $2m undertaken by statutory authorities as well as Government departments. It is obvious that such an amendment would negate the original purpose of the Bill and result in the Committee being further burdened with works referred to it by the 60 or so statutory authorities.

As I said during the original debate on this Bill, I wish to remain flexible on this matter. I have therefore already launched an in-depth examination by an interdepartmental committee of the full range of works undertaken by all arms of the Australian Government. Following this examination it should be possible to draw up a more rational method of selecting works for reference to the Public Works Committee. This was accepted by the House of Representatives which has returned the Bill to the Senate in its original form. I therefore commend the Bill to the Senate with the undertaking that the indepth examination already in progress will be pursued as a matter of urgency.

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