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Wednesday, 24 May 1989
Page: 2628

(Question No. 875)


Senator Short asked the Minister for Consumer Affairs, upon notice, on 8 March 1989:

(1) What was the income of the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations (AFCO), which is receiving 93 per cent of its annual income in the form of a $217,000 grant in aid from the Commonwealth Government this financial year, for each of the years from 1977-78 to 1987-88.

(2) How much of the annual income of AFCO for each of the years from 1977-78 to 1987-88 came from: (a) specific Commonwealth grants; (b) member organisation subscriptions; (c) interest; and (d) other sources.

(3) What was the annual expenditure by AFCO in each of the years from 1977-78 to 1987-88 for: (a) staff salaries and allowances; (b) costs of executive members, including travel costs to executive meetings; (c) staff travel; (d) general meetings; (e) rent and electricity; (f) telephones and postage; (g) capital equipment; (h) stationery; (i) attendance of consumer representatives at meetings of Standards Association and other Commonwealth bodies; (j) publications; and (k) special projects (please specify).

(4) Is Mr Robin Brown, the Executive Director of AFCO, the same Mr Robin Brown who was formerly the Chairman of AFCO; if so, on what date did he cease to be Chairman and on what date did he become Executive Director.

(5) Was the position of Executive Director for AFCO advertised when it became vacant before Mr Brown's appointment; if not, why not.

(6) What are the terms and conditions of Mr Brown's appointment, including the annual salary.

(7) Have there been any changes to Mr Brown's terms and conditions of appointment; if so, when and in what way were they changed.

(8) Did the standard contract for employment with AFCO in 1985 (clause 27) specify that any fees and allowances paid to employees in performing their duty as AFCO representatives, or for payment for lectures or consultancies, were to be paid to AFCO; if so, where are these monies recorded in AFCO's annual financial statements.

(9) Has clause 27 been changed, if so, when and what was the nature of this change.

(10) How much did Mr Brown, the Executive Director of AFCO and other AFCO staff members receive by way of fees, allowances, payments for lectures and consultancies during 1985-86 and to the present and how much of this money has been remitted to AFCO funds.

(11) Are members of the AFCO Executive Committee and staff issued with credit cards on AFCO accounts; if so, what type of cards are they given and what conditions are attached.

(12) When were these conditions introduced and have they been changed since they were introduced.

(13) When AFCO Executive members and staff use credit cards for personal reasons, and subsequently reimburse AFCO, how are these reimbursements recorded in AFCO's annual financial statement.

(14) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the statement in the September 1988 issue of Canberra Consumer by the Chairman of Canberra Consumers Inc. that he considered that changes to the AFCO constitution had been `railroaded' through; if so, does the Minister agree with this view.

(15) When was the General Meeting of AFCO held at which the constitutional changes referred to by the Chairman of Canberra Consumers Inc. passed, and where was it held.

(16) How many changes to AFCO's constitution were made at that meeting and were each of the changes voted upon individually; if not, why not.

(17) Were amendments to the motions accepted at the meeting; if not, why not.


Senator Bolkus —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The income of the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations (AFCO) for each of the years 1977-78 to 1987-88 as obtained from AFCO's annual reports and audited statements, was as follows:

Year

Income

$

1977-78 ...

88,950

1978-79 ...

90,366

1979-80 ...

94,636

1980-81 ...

105,403

1981-82 ...

104,654

1982-83 ...

111,082

1983-84 ...

151,307

1984-85 ...

202,121

1985-86 ...

194,301

1986-87 ...

212,690

1987-88 ...

261,047

National Prices Network funds in the sum of $15,000 are not included in the 1986-87 and 1987-88 figures as the Network is a seperate entity.

(2) (a) The following Commonwealth funds have been provided to AFCO since 1977-78 in the form of grants-in-aid, sponsored by various Ministers reponsible for consumer affairs at the national level since that time.

Year

Grant-in-Aid

$

1977-78 ...

85,000

1978-79 ...

85,000

1979-80 ...

91,000

1980-81 ...

100,000

1981-82 ...

100,000

1982-83 ...

100,000

1983-84 ...

120,000

1984-85 ...

170,000

1985-86 ...

170,000

1986-87 ...

200,000

1987-88 ...

209,000

(2) (b) to (17) Both present and past Federal Governments have provided funds for AFCO. AFCO is the peak council of the Australian consumer movement and with a diverse membership of over fifty organisations, is in a unique position to draw on the expertise, skill and experience of these organisations. AFCO is therefore able to provide the Government with a representative consumer view on issues.

As Minister for Consumer Affairs, I am not responsible for the detailed administration of AFCO and I am therefore not able to provide the specific information sought in parts (2) (b)-(17) of the question. The honourable Senator should seek this information from AFCO itself. AFCO can be contacted at:

PO Box 75

MANUKA ACT 2603

(062) 73 3866.