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Thursday, 28 September 1972
Page: 2134

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr HURFORD - Last week, in commenting on the 138th and 139th reports 1 mentioned that the Public Accounts Committee has 3 general functions. They are, firstly, in depth inquiries into various government departments and semigovernmental authorities; secondly, the work it does on the Auditor-General's report; and, thirdly, the work it does on the estimating of government departments. As the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), has just stated, this 140th report relates to that third function. There are 2 sections of th'at function. The first is to examine the Consolidated Revenue Fund and to seek, in public inquiry, to examine witnesses and to ascertain why there are funds unspent under some headings in the various Appropriation Acts. As honourable members will realise the report concerning that matter was brought down last week.

The second section is the subject of the 140th report. It is the examining of the Advance to the Treasurer or, in other words, the examining, as I called it last week, of the contingency fund, to find out why it had to be used and what were the explanations for funds not having been put aside under Appropriation Acts (No. 1) and (No. 2) and, later in the year, Appropriation Acts (No. 3) and (No. 4). In the vast majority of cases good written explanations have been received by the Public Accounts Committee as to why these funds have not been put aside. We choose from the submissions which we receive those particular areas in which we want to make further inquiry and receive further explanations. Often we find at public inquiry that the explanations are acceptable. This 140th report contains the matters covered in our public inquiries earlier this year on this subject. There were 6 departments from which we had to seek further explanations. They were the Department of Air, the Attorney-General's Department, the Department of Education and Science, the Department of External Territories, the Department of Supply and the Department of Trade and Industry. I hope that those honourable members in this House and those citizens of the public who are interested in this important field of Commonwealth public administration will read this report and note the work being done by this Committee of the Parliament.

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