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Thursday, 6 March 1980
Page: 660

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) -by leave- I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

I do so because I believe that we may need to debate the matter concerning the Joint Committee on publications and the report a little more fully. I do not deny Senator Rae the right to speak at this moment. The figures that have been placed before the Senate indicate that there has been an effort on the pan of many of the institutions concerned to comply with the Presiding Officers ' request. But it does emerge that the three-month period within which financial reports must be tabled appears to be a limitation. For that reason I would support the proposition that the period be four months. Most of the organisations would thus have another month in which to bring down their reports.

However I put the point of view that was expressed by Opposition members on the Commitee. It must not be understood by the organisations that because there is a stipulation of four months within which to submit their reports they must present them three or four months after they are due. Four months is being provided merely in recognition of the fact that some organisations may not be able to get all their figures by the end of July when they must necessarily prepare and submit their reports. I think the proposition that has been put before the House by Senator Archer is a reasonable one and I believe that we should accede to and support his request. However, there are some organisations, and some important ones- I do not doubt that Senator Rae has something further to say on the matter- that persist with delay. Some of those reports are still not down. There is strong objection to that being the case. The four-month period that Senator Archer mentioned in his statement allows the Senate to receive those reports in sufficient time to debate them before the rising of the Christmas session.

Honourable senators will notice that he proposed four months. This would mean that the reports should be in by the end of October. That would enable them to be discussed over the remaining four weeks of the session. It has been the practice for some of the organisations to wait until the very last day to present these reports. In the past we have had a great number of reports presented in this place on the last day, thus giving no opportunity for debate. I think it must be impressed upon those concerned that the sooner the better, but the period of four months is in recognition of their difficulties.

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