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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3421

The Department of Defence is procuring 4 FFG-07 Class Frigates for the Royal Australian Navy. The purchase includes 12 helicopters for tactical surveillance and reconnaisance.

The Auditor-General criticised the Department for the time taken (3 years) to agree on the functions and tasks for the armed helicopters, and to agree on the precise level of capability required for each task. This delayed the selection process for the helicopter and in turn will impact on the operational capability of the frigates.

The Committee, while acknowledging the need to carry out a careful evaluation process, is concerned at the time taken to arrive at a choice of helicopter, particularly in view of its impact on the frigates surveillance capability.

In view of the delays so far witnessed in this project the Committee has requested that any further delays that could impact on the embarkation of the helicopters beyond 1988 be reported to the Committee.

DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS AND ENVIRONMENT

The Auditor-General drew attention to a number of irregularities in the administration of the financial affairs of Norfolk Island.

The Committee is precluded by the Public Accounts Act from examining matters internal to the administration of Norfolk Island.

The Department of Home Affairs and Environment and the Auditor-General are seeking to clarify and resolve these inadequacies in the audit provisions of the Norfolk Island legislation.

DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRY

The Auditor-General referred to several unsatisfactory features covering the collection of levies, taxes and charges by the Department.

The Department has taken action to overcome the administrative and legislative difficiencies associated with these problems.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY

The Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service provides rehabilitation programs to persons suffering from a physical or mental disability which is considered a substantial handicap to undertaking employment or resuming an independent or semi-independent life in their own home.

The Auditor-General doubted whether sufficient information was available from past records to reliably assess the results of the training programs the Service administered.

The Department has undertaken a complete review of its statistical collection procedures. The new computerised system should dramatically improve the Department's data collection and statistical analysis facilities.

The Committee believes that the system should be reviewed by the Auditor- General at some later stage to evaluate the systems capabilities.

The Committee recommended that the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service seek ways to exploit this new system to improve the analytical and reporting capabilities of its casework teams situated at its various centres around Australia.

Further the Committee recommends that the results and experience stemming from casework studies should be collated, analysed and made available to appropriate professional organisations in Australia.

Copies of this report will not be available for general distribution until Thursday 8 December 1983. However copies are held by the Parliamentary Library.

I commend the report to honourable senators.