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Thursday, 18 August 1960

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The principal purpose of this bill is to delete the requirements from the Audit Act for the preparation of statements of sundry creditors of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the inclusion of those statements in the annual report of the Auditor-General. The Auditor-General has, in the past, drawn attention to deficiencies in these statements and as the need for the information appeared to be doubtful, the Public Accounts Committee was invited to consider the matter. The committee, on which, of course, both sides of the House are represented, in its forty-sixth report, presented to both Houses of this Parliament on 10th March, 1960, recommended the repeal of the relevant provisions of the act.

In view of the committee's recommendation, the Government was not disposed to undertake the not insubstantial amount of work involved in compiling and presenting the lists at 30th June, 1960.We knew that we would be presenting a bill to Parliament to give effect to this, and we did not feel justified in having the departments go to the unnecessary trouble and undertake the work involved in complying strictly with the law as it applied at that time. But even though I shall have other amendments of the Audit Act to bring forward before we debate this matter, we felt it desirable to have expressed before the Parliament - in a formal sense, anyhow - the Government's intention to give the matter retrospective effect to the end of June of this year.

The bill has therefore been expressed to give effect to the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, with effect from 30th June, 1960.

Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.

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