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Wednesday, 18 August 1993
Page: 217

Senator MICHAEL BAUME (3.47 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

The situation of the explosives factory at Maribyrnong has been extraordinary. This annual report is for the year ended 30 June 1992. We are now in August 1993 and have eventually got it. The report is probably not of much significance because the factory has closed down. The fact is, though, that this report was submitted to the minister and was received by him on 21 January 1993. I admit that the government's attention was otherwise directed as of January. Maybe, among the piles of fibs, naughtiness, misbehaviour and deception that were mounting in every minister's office, this report was shuffled onto one such pile and, therefore, was lost. But the Minister for Defence (Senator Robert Ray) has a duty to present to this parliament such reports, and this report was not presented in a timely and proper fashion.

Senator Schacht —He did!

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Even Senator Schacht, having interjected in a way that was not particularly sensible, is now acknowledging that by nodding his head. I presume that it is not an nervous tic—but he should be nervous. The fact is that, as a courtesy to this chamber, there should be some explanation of why it took the minister from 21 January 1993 until 18 August 1993 to find this report and submit it to this parliament.

  It could well be a matter of interest to the people of Australia that the closing down of this explosives factory at Maribyrnong involved a loss of about $8 million—but I suppose it is only taxpayers' money, so why would the government worry about that! It is interesting that the auditor's report was signed on 18 December 1992. I admit that that would have made it a little difficult to get it to the Senate—as one would always hope these reports were dealt with—before Christmas. Unless there is a special reason, all reports by government authorities should be submitted to the Senate, to the parliament, before the end of the calendar year. The requirements of reporting are very clear in relating to the year to June. This situation is ridiculous.

  I give notice that, every time I am here and reports are brought in as late as this, I will complain about it. That is why I sought leave to note the annual report of Aerospace Technologies of Australia Pty Limited for the year 1991, which has been presented today along with the annual report for 1992. I do not know at this stage what the reason for the delay is; I hope that we will find out.

  All I say to the government is: for heaven's sake stop this nonsense of losing reports, forgetting about them or not wanting to bring them in. Let us have reports, particularly when everything has been done right. The government got the report, the Auditor-General signed the report and all we have is a big loss. Maybe the government is a bit embarrassed about showing us that, as a result of its incredible capacity as managers, it has lost another $8 million.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.