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Wednesday, 7 June 1989
Page: 3524

Senator LEWIS(12.17) —In responding to Senator Collins's remarks, I do not think that I can put the position any better than Senator Watson put it. The issue is one of accountability to the Parliament and to the elected representatives of the people of Australia, who will hold 70 per cent of the shares in the organisation. I understand the merits of what Senator Collins said about the situation in the Northern Territory, especially with the creation of a new government. For example, if the Government were to use public accountants to audit the accounts of the affairs of the new Administration of the Australian Capital Territory, I would understand that. There could be a lot of merit in it. However, the truth is that in the Commonwealth Parliament we have established the Office of the Auditor-General. He has developed a responsibility to the Parliament. Sometimes I have been a little concerned about the exercise of that responsibility, but I am sure that, as a result of the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, those responsibilities will be enhanced, increased and improved for the benefit of the Parliament. Unless the Government is prepared to go down the path of privatising this organisation in whole, it will find itself stuck with not only this organisation but also any other organisation that it wants to partially privatise with amendments such as the one before us.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Remainder of Bill-by leave-taken as a whole.