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Thursday, 23 November 1905


Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence) - I cannot inform the honorable senator when the report of the Auditor-General will be furnished. He is absolutely independent of the Government. He stands between Government and Parliament, audits the accounts, and makes a report direct to the President or to the Speaker. If there is any line as to which the honorable senator desires information, I can give it to him.

Senator STEWART(Queensland).- This brings up another point with respect to the Auditor-General. The Minister has told us that he. is art officer altogether independent of the Government, but he is not independent of Parliament. His report ought to be ready in time for the discussion on the Estimates. If it is not ready, it is of no use so far as the criticism of the Estimates is concerned.' I think that some pressure ought to be brought to bear upon the Auditor-General to have his report ready in time. In Queensland we used to have the Auditor-General's report ready in time to assist us in discussing the Estimates. I admit that there may be a little more difficulty in the Commonwealth, but still, if the Auditor-General's report is not to be valueless, we ought to have it before us at this time. The President has said that certain papers have been circulated.


Senator Pulsford - The information is all in the Estimates.


Senator STEWART - We receive any number of papers, and do not know where to put them. I have been trying to find accommodation for my papers, but it is so insufficient that it is. practically impossible for me to obtain any paper when I want it, unless I put it. in a particular place by itself. If I try to arrange my papers as an ordinary man engaged in a business would do, I find the task to be hopeless. We have a little more accommodation downstairs, but even that is of comparatively little service. I do not want any luxuries. I ask for nothing more than is absolutely necessary for a man engaged in a business of this character.


The CHAIRMAN - Does the honorable senator connect his observations with the item?


Senator STEWART - Senator Baker tells us that the papers have been circulated. Goodness knows where they are now ! I have a whole bundle of papers, but I really do not know what I have or have not got.

It is impossible for me to arrange them conveniently.


Senator Pulsford - The honorable senator ought to have a secretary.


Senator STEWART - I am quite qualified to be my own secretary, but I cannot be my own cupboard, unfortunately. If I had the faculty to carry parliamentary papers in my pocket, or to tabulate them in my brain, as I suppose Senator Pulsford does, it would be very useful. But unfortunately niv brain, although perhaps a little wooden, has not the capacity of a cupboard. I should like the House Committee to take into consideration the question of finding decent accommodation for honorable senators.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - I think we ought not to lose sight of the remark made by Senator Stewart with respect to the report made by the Auditor-General. Certainly it is a very important matter. On referring to the Audit Act, I find that the annual statement of the Treasurer as to the consolidated revenue fund and the receipts and expenditure for the year, has to be submitted to the AuditorGeneral, as soon as reasonably convenient after the expiration of the financial year. Then the Auditor-General has to make a report, which has to be laid on the table of Parliament within fourteen days after it is prepared. We are now in the middle of November. The financial year ended on 30th June. Perhaps the Minister of Defence will be able to tell us how it is that the Auditor-General's- report is not yet available. It certainly would be of great service to honorable senators. Senator Stewart has laid his. finger on a' very important point. Perhaps the Minister will see that the proper authorities are communicated with, so that in future the report may be made available in time to be of use.

Senator PLAYFORD(South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I am sorry that I cannot give any information on the subject, but I will make all the necessary in-, quiries. I quite agree that we should have the Auditor-General's report laid before Parliament at as early a date as possible. I will inquire why it has not been furnished before now.







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