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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1385


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(11.57) —I gave the Australian Democrats the benefit of the doubt when I spoke earlier in seeking the reason for their opposition to the Bill. I said it had probably more to do with ignorance than malice. That has just been confirmed because Senator Siddons said-and I think these were his exact words: `If money can be borrowed ways will be found to spend it'. Of course, ways will not be found to spend any money at all unless this is authorised by Parliament-this applies to either the present or the past-through Appropriation Bills. So Senator Siddons appears to have misunderstood the purpose of this measure altogether.

I apologise for having overlooked Senator Peter Rae. There may have been one or two other people who have raised concern about this matter in the past. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of the puppets who sit on the other side dance to somebody else's strings. They have been quite happy to allow, and have never questioned, the arrangement whereby the great majority of total government outlays is covered by standing appropriations. They have never given this any concern at all in the past. However, like puppets on strings they meekly go along with the amendments which are being moved by the Opposition today which, firstly, do nothing to increase parliamentary control or scrutiny of appropriations and, secondly, with the exception of Senator Peter Rae and perhaps one or two others, completely ignore the fact, of course, that when they have had the chance either to criticise or block standing appropriations they have never bothered to do it.

I am confused about just what amendments are going to be moved. Firstly, I have not seen any specific piece of paper as notice of an amendment from Senator Siddons. I understood that amendment No. 2 on the piece of paper circulated by the Opposition was the amendment which Senator Siddons proposed to move, but that does not seem to be what Senator Siddons said a while ago.