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Thursday, 8 December 1983
Page: 3471

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education and Youth Affairs)(10.28) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

The purpose of this Bill is to increase the size of membership of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from ten to fifteen. The need to increase the size was initially raised with the Government by Senator Georges, Chairman of the Committee, and it is supported by the Government.

The Committee's role has been expanded in recent years and has resulted in an increased workload, especially in its examination of the financial affairs of statutory and other government bodies and its examination of reports made to Parliament by the Auditor-General. Over the years, however, no provision has been made for an increase in the size of membership of the committee and in fact its numbers have not been varied since 1951.

The Committee's program is large and deals with complex issues. An increase in membership would allow the establishment of an extra sectional committee, which would enable the Committee to keep pace with reports made by the Auditor-General and to ensure continuing proper parliamentary scrutiny.

The Bill also provides for adjustments in the composition of the membership. Five members are to be appointed by the Senate and ten members are to be appointed by the House of Representatives, reflecting the relative size of each House. In addition, the quorum requirement will be raised from four to six. The size of sectional committees will not be altered by the proposed amendments.

I recommend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) adjourned.