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Tuesday, 27 March 1984
Page: 701

Senator FOREMAN —In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:

Construction of facilities for a tactical fighter squadron, RAAF base Darwin, Northern Territory-supplementary report relating to the engine runup facility;

New building for the Australian Film and Television School, North Ryde, New South Wales;

Reconstruction of pyrotechnic section at the munitions filling factory, St Marys, New South Wales; and

Forty-seventh general report.

Ordered that the reports be printed.

Senator FOREMAN —by leave-Once a year the Public Works Committee is required by its Act to report to Parliament on its activities over the preceding 12 months. The report contains factual information on such matters as Committee membership, number of meetings held and details of the various works referred to it and the number of reports presented. The report highlights the new area of work now being examined; namely, those relating to statutory bodies and overseas embassies. This widening of the Committee's purview resulted from recent amendments to the Public Works Committee Act. Two further amendments to the Act are foreshadowed in this report: One is to cover the possibility of work being declared urgent by the Governor-General because of an emergency situation, the other to raise the current mandatory limit of work being referred to the Committee from $2m to $6m and that the Committee be given discretionary power to examine works estimated to cost between $2m and $6m.

For the benefit of honourable senators, officials and others likely to be dealing with the Committee and the public generally, I turn now to the functions of the Committee. The Committee, as expeditiously as is practicable, considers each public work that is referred to it in accordance with the Public Works Committee Act and makes a report to both Houses of Parliament concerning the expedience of carrying out the work. It also reports on any other matters related to the work in respect of which it thinks it desirable that its views should be reported to both Houses. It may recommend any alterations to the proposals for the work that, in its opinion, are necessary or desirable to ensure that the most effective use is made of the moneys to be expended on the work.

It is the practice for the Chairman of the Committee to read out sub-section 17 (3) of the Public Works Committee Act at the commencement of each public hearing . This sets out the pertinent matters to be taken into consideration when the Committee reports on a public work. Honourable senators may be assured that the members of the twenty-seventh Committee will continue to uphold the tradition of all former committees in its important role as a watchdog, on behalf of Parliament, over proposed expenditure on public works. I commend the report to honourable senators.