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Tuesday, 29 April 1980
Page: 1895

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) -by leave- Senator Martin already has mentioned briefly one of the matters which I wanted to raise at the tabling of the report of Senate Estimates Committee A. I did discuss with the Committee the advisability of including in the report a recommendation of mine that both the Joint House Committee and the Library Committee should come under the jurisdiction of a legislative and general purpose standing committee so that both Committees would be responsible to the Parliament. In my view, if that were done it would save a lot of heart-burning for the Presiding Officers.

We are now informed that in recent times, although members of both Houses of Parliament are elected as members of both the Joint House Committee and the Library Committee, those Committee members operate only in an advisory capacity, which somewhat hamstrings the Committee members in their attempts to pursue matters which we rightfully feel we ought to be able to pursue. I put to the Senate the proposition that consideration ought to be given to bringing both those committees under the jurisdiction of a legislative and general purpose standing committee so that the Library and the Joint House Department are made answerable to the Parliament with respect to all of their activities. I take the matter no further at this time.

Another matter I wish to raise arises from a statement made today by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick), when he was able to quote from this report when referring to Asia Dairy Industries (Hong Kong) Ltd. I do not have a copy of the full report, which would contain answers given to questions asked by Committee members. However, nowhere in the document I have is Asia Dairy Industries mentioned. There is mention of an AuditorGeneral's report. I was present at the Committee meeting when the report was compiled yesterday. Nowhere in it is any mention made of Asia Dairy Industries. I am at a loss to understand how the Leader of the Government could come into the Senate and, on a point of order, state that Senator Walsh had pre-empted the tabling in the Parliament of information contained in the report, when the members of the Committee were not aware that any such thing had happened.

I checked with the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Martin, and she was unable to tell me whether in fact she had received a letter dated 24 April from the Auditor-General 's Department, referred to by Senator Carrick. I certainly do not have a copy of such a letter. Senator Martin told me that I ought to check with the Committee Secretary. I have not had an opportunity yet to leave the Senate to check with the Secretary whether he has received a copy of such a letter. I am not aware even whether a copy of such a letter is embodied in the report which now has been tabled because, although I am a member of that Committee, I am not in receipt of a copy of the report. All I have is an extract of the report, part of which was read to the Senate by the Chairman of the Committee. I will confine my remarks to what I have said already. No doubt I will have more to say about the matter in the Committee of the Whole when we debate the report of Estimates Committee A.

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