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GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY MATTERS--SELECT COMMITTEE--APPOINTMENT

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Hill) amended his

notice of motion by leave and, pursuant to notice, moved--

(1) That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee for

an Inquiry into Certain Government Accountability Matters, be

appointed to examine and report, on or before 30 June 1994, on the

following:

(a) the operation of the program now known as the Community

Cultural, Recreational and Sporting Facilities Program, with

particular reference to:

(i) the nature and extent of the respective roles of the

administering department and Minister and his/her advisers

and staff in the process of selection of successful

applications,

(ii) the role of the bureaucracy and in particular the

administering department and the Department of Finance in

safeguarding against fraud and political bias, and

(iii) the role of the Auditor-General in safeguarding against

fraud and political bias; and

(b) with respect to the future administration of similar programs,

any safeguards or guidelines which might be put in place to

ensure proper accountability for the expenditure of public

moneys, including:

(i) examples of successful programs,

(ii) standard principles to be adopted in selection procedures,

(iii) the availability of documented reasons for decisions, and

(iv) the improvement of current auditing procedures.

(2) That the committee consist of seven senators, as follows:

(a) two nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

(b) three nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

(c) one nominated by the Leader of the Australian Democrats;

(d) one nominated by the Greens (WA) and Senator Harradine.

(3) That:

(a) the committee appoint a commissioner to assist it with its

inquiry;

(b) the commissioner be a person who is or has been a judge of a

superior court, or is or has been a senior counsel;

(c) the committee is to act in accordance with the following

principles:

(i) that it at all times take care to protect, so far as it is

proper and reasonable to do so, the privacy,

confidentiality, rights and reputations of individuals,

whether appearing as witnesses before the committee or

otherwise, and

(ii) that it summon witnesses to appear personally only when

satisfied that the circumstances demand it, that, so far as

is possible, witnesses be given notice of the matters

proposed to be dealt with, and that witnesses be given an

opportunity to reply in writing before appearing to give

evidence, and

(iii) that it give specific consideration in the case of each

proposed witness to the desirability of hearing evidence

in camera, if it is proper and reasonable to do so, and

that each witness be given an opportunity to apply for any

or all of his or her evidence to be given in private.

(4) That the committee proceed to the despatch of business

notwithstanding that all members have not been duly nominated and

appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(5) That:

(a) the chair of the committee be elected by the members of the

committee;

(b) in the absence of agreement on the selection of a chair, duly

notified to the President, the allocation of the chair shall be

determined by the Senate;

(c) the deputy chair of the committee be appointed by the chair from

the members of the committee immediately after the election of

the chair;

(d) the deputy chair act as chair when there is no chair or the

chair is not present at a meeting; and

(e) in the event of the votes on any question before the committee

being equally divided, the chair, or the deputy chair when

acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(6) That the quorum of the committee be four members.

(7) That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and

examine persons and documents, to move from place to place and to

sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of

the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives.

(8) That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting

of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such

subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered

to consider, and that the quorum of a subcommittee be a majority

of the Senators appointed to the subcommittee.

(9) That the terms of reference of the inquiry be appropriately

advertised in the media and members of the public be invited to

make written and/or oral submissions to the committee on matters

related to the reference.

(10) That the committee be provided with all necessary staff,

facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with

specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee, with the

approval of the President.

(11) That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such

documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily

Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

(12) That the committee may report from time to time its proceedings

and evidence taken or any interim conclusions or

recommendationsarising from its inquiry, and may make regular

reports on the progress of its proceedings.

The Leader of the Australian Democrats (Senator Kernot) moved the

following amendment:

Omit all words after "That", substitute, "The Senate:

(1) notes with concern the conclusions of the House of Representatives

Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts on the

Community Cultural, Recreational and Sporting Facilities Program

about the manifest inadequacies of documentation and

accountability processes in the administrationof this program;

(2) endorses the recommendations of the Auditor-General in Audit

Report No. 9 and the House of Representatives Committee on the

improvementof decision making and accountability processes in the

future for this and similar programs and requests the Government

to report to Parliament by 13 May;

(3) supports the Government's commitment to re-draft the

foreshadowedAuditor-General bill to strengthen the definition of

the powers and mandate of the Auditor-General in line with Report

296 of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts;

(a) supports the Government's undertaking to have such a re-drafted

bill debated in both Houses early in the spring sittings;

(b) urges the establishment of a parliamentary audit committee as

recommended in Report 296 and supports the consideration of

measures to further strengthen the independence of the

Auditor-General;

(4) supports the immediate reconvening of the parliamentary working

group established to develop a code of conduct for ministers,

members and senators, and calls upon it to produce a report, no

later than the commencement of the spring sittings on 23 August

1994, addressing the question of a ministerial code of conduct,

including the proper extent of ministerial discretion in

disbursing funds under direct grant programs;

(5) in the context of measures to ensure greater accountability of

ministers and members of both Houses of Parliament, endorses the

principle of a register of Senators' interests, and, to ensure

speedy consideration of that matter, which has been before the

Senate for 10 years, orders that:

(a) the Government Business notice of motion and order of the day

relating to a proposed committee and register of Senators'

interests have precedence over all other Government Business on

14 March 1994; and

(b) the following provisions apply to consideration of those

motions:

(i) the following time limits apply to the further consideration

of the motions specified:

MotionMinutes

Registration of Senators'

Interests--proposed resolution150

Proposed new standing order 22A30

(ii) this resolution apply to the motions as if they were

questions for the passage of stages of bills, and have the

same effect as an allotment of time for the consideration

of bills under standing order 142, except that:

(a) at any time during the consideration of each motion any

Senator may move a motion to extend the time allotted for

that motion, and that question shall be put and determined

without debate, but no more than two such extension

motions may be moved; and

(b) at the expiration of the time allotted for each motion,

any amendment to that motion which has been circulated by

any Senator but not moved shall be put and determined, and

any Senator who has circulated amendments may speak for

not more than five minutes to all of those amendments

together before the question on the amendments is put.

Documents: Senator Kernot, by leave, tabled the following documents:

Government accountability matters--Copies of--

Letter from the Minister for Finance (Hon. Kim Beazley) to Leader of

the Australian Democrats (Senator Cheryl Kernot) dated 2 March 1994.

Letter from Leader of the Australian Democrats (Senator Cheryl

Kernot) to the Minister for Finance (Hon. Kim Beazley), together

with attachments (3).

Debate ensued.

Senator Chamarette, by leave, moved the following amendments together:

Before paragraph (1), insert the following preamble:

"That the Senate, while noting and welcoming the Government's intention

to introduce an overdue, basic, accountability package, namely:

(a) introducing and debating, in the spring session of Parliament

this year, amendments to the Audit Act 1901 significantly to

improve the powers and independence of the Auditor-General; and

(b) responding, by 13 May 1994, to the report by the House of

Representatives Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation

and the Arts, entitled The community cultural, recreational and

sporting facilities program--a review of a report on an

efficiency audit by the Auditor-General, and the Audit Report

No. 9 1993-94 by the Auditor-General into that program; and

(c) formulating a code of conduct for Ministers of State,

resolves:"

Omit paragraph (3), substitute the following paragraphs:

"(3) That:

(a) there be a Commissioner Assisting the Committee appointed by

resolution of an absolute majority of the committee, upon terms

and conditions approved by the President;

(b) the Commissioner Assisting be a person who is or has been a

judge of a superior court, or is or has been a senior counsel;

(c) the Commissioner Assisting is to be notified of all meetings of

the committee, may if he or she chooses be present at any

meeting of the committee, participate in the committee's

deliberations and must be present at any examination of

witnesses before the committee on any matter relevant to the

committee's inquiry and must be present when the committee is

deliberating on its report;

(d) the Commissioner has priority in the examination of any witness,

at any time, if he or she requests it;

(e) the committee is to include in its report any document which the

Commissioner asks to be included, including his or her own

report, if any, on the terms of reference of the inquiry.

"(3A) That the committee act in accordance with the following

principles:

(a) that it at all times take care to protect, so far as it is

proper and reasonable to do so, the privacy, confidentiality,

rights and reputations of individuals, whether appearing as

witnesses before the committee or otherwise;

(b) that it summon witnesses to appear personally only when

satisfied that the circumstances demand it, that, so far as is

possible, witnesses be given notice of the matters proposed to

be dealt with, and that witnesses be given an opportunity to

reply in writing before appearing to give evidence; and

(c) that it give specific consideration in the case of each proposed

witness to the desirability of hearing evidence in camera, if it

is proper and reasonable to do so, and that each witness be

given an opportunity to apply for any or all of his or her

evidence to be given in private."

Debate ensued.

Time expired: The time for General Business expired, and leave was

granted for the debate to continue.

Debate continued.

At 7.20 p.m.--

Leave was granted for the debate to continue.

Debate continued.

Question--That Senator Kernot's amendment be agreed to--put.

The Senate divided--

AYES, 29

Beahan Bell Bolkus Bourne Burns Carr Coates Colston Cooney Coulter Denman Evans, Christopher Evans, Gareth Faulkner Foreman (Teller) Jones Kernot Lees Loosley McKiernan McMullan Murphy Reynolds Schacht Sherry Spindler West Woodley Zakharov

NOES, 31

Baume Boswell Brownhill Calvert Campbell Chamarette Chapman Crichton-Browne Ellison Ferguson Gibson Harradine Herron Hill Kemp Knowles Macdonald, Ian MacGibbon McGauran Margetts Minchin Newman O'Chee Patterson Reid (Teller) Short Teague Tierney Troeth Vanstone Watson

Question negatived.

Question--That Senator Chamarette's amendments be agreed to--put.

The Senate divided--

AYES, 30

Baume Boswell Brownhill Calvert Campbell Chamarette Chapman Crichton-Browne Ellison Ferguson Gibson Herron Hill Kemp Knowles Macdonald, Ian MacGibbon McGauran Margetts Minchin Newman O'Chee Patterson Reid (Teller) Short Teague Tierney Troeth Vanstone Watson

NOES, 30

Beahan Bell Bolkus Bourne Burns Carr Coates Colston Cooney Coulter Denman Evans, Christopher Evans, Gareth Faulkner Foreman (Teller) Harradine Jones Kernot Lees Loosley McKiernan McMullan Murphy Reynolds Schacht Sherry Spindler West Woodley Zakharov

The Ayes and Noes were equal and so the question was negatived.

Main question put.

The Senate divided--

AYES, 30

Baume Boswell Brownhill Calvert Campbell Chamarette Chapman Crichton-Browne Ellison Ferguson Gibson Herron Hill Kemp Knowles Macdonald, Ian MacGibbon McGauran Margetts Minchin Newman O'Chee Patterson Reid (Teller) Short Teague Tierney Troeth Vanstone Watson

NOES, 30

Beahan Bell Bolkus Bourne Burns Carr Coates Colston Cooney Coulter Denman Evans, Christopher Evans, Gareth Faulkner Foreman (Teller) Harradine Jones Kernot Lees Loosley McKiernan McMullan Murphy Reynolds Schacht Sherry Spindler West Woodley Zakharov

The Ayes and Noes were equal and so the question was negatived.