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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4292

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - To me, the importance of the reports that have been tabled and the matter that we are now discussing is not directly whether this particular project has or has not worked correctly or whether it has turned out to be economically viable; rather, the importance is that it highlights something which I think should not be allowed to continue. That is the process whereby the Parliament grants to the Minister and his Department an in globo sum of money which as time goes by he can spend as he wishes on such experimental projects.

I can understand a department or a government wishing to ensure that the Treasury, for example, does not have complete control over money to be used experimentally to set up viable Aboriginal enterprises. I can understand also that a sum of money may be set aside by the Parliament for this general purpose, and I do not object to that. However, I believe that before money is taken from that general grant and applied to a particular project, the project should be presented to Parliament. Whether it is proposed to enter into a crocodile, turtle or cattle farm, or whatever the project may be, the department and the Minister responsible should come to the Parliament and obtain from the general funds being provided money to embark on the project. If we intend to embark on a project, it will require a certain sum of money to be set up, and each year an audited account of what has been spent and a report in the progress of the project should be presented to Parliament. It may be said that this was not done by the then Government, and it should have been done. I do not object to that. However, I think it has been shown that there is a danger in the way it is being operated at present. Time has shown that that danger should be overcome in future by ensuring that sums of money provided for general purposes are spent only on particular purposes after Parliament has debated the matter and expressed an opinion on those purposes.

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