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Monday, 8 May 1989
Page: 1991


Senator MICHAEL BAUME(4.54) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I move this motion as part of my continuing campaign about the ludicrously late nature of so many of the reports that this Government has been presenting quite frankly in a grossly insulting way to both this chamber and the people of Australia. This report is for the year ended June 1988. It was signed by the City Manager on 10 March 1989; the Forestry Trust Account was signed on 20 February 1989; the Manager, Australian Capital Territory Forests signed his section on 15 February 1989; the Auditor- General signed his report on 8 March 1989. The Government owes this chamber an explanation as to the reasons it has given for the extensions of time-which it is required to give-for the people who prepared this report, resulting in its presentation to this Parliament so late.

If the Australian Capital Territory Forestry Trust Account were a public company, it would have been fined, delisted and its directors hammered over the knuckles. But, because it is a government operation, it can hide its incompetence behind the shield that this Government so readily provides for it in not requiring reporting within a reasonable time.

So that the Senate can understand what in fact has been going on, I ask the appropriate Minister to provide the Senate with the reasons given in agreeing to extend the time from the statutory six months in which this report should have been made. I mention in passing that, for the year, this body, the Australian Capital Territory Forestry Trust Account, incurred an operating loss of $192,840. I note that this Government, which is clearly so determined to dress up its figures even in a small way, paid itself a dividend of $165,000 even though the forestry operations made a loss. That seems to me to be moderately curious.

Also I have no doubt that many people interested in forestry activities would find it interesting that the Government itself undertakes clear-felling in its forests, which is, of course, a sensible and proper way to perform. The area clear-felled and awaiting replanting is about 1,367 hectares. I mentioned that in passing because it indicates that there is nothing obscene or indecent about clear-felling of forests-the Government itself does it.