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Tuesday, 29 April 1980
Page: 1943


Senator RAE (Tasmania) - I assure the Senate that I will not speak for more than a few minutes. This will enable all the Estimates committees' reports to be dealt with on the same day. Something is reflected by these multi-party committee reports which come before the Senate. 1 think there is a need for three things. There is a need for the Senate Estimate committee procedure to include that which is not done by the AuditorGeneral, which goes into the area of program evaluation. We should ensure that there is some examination of what is happening in relation to programs, not what is happening in relation to the detail, the minutiae of expenditure, which is often obscured in the way in which the explanatory notes are presented at the moment. I refer to the report of Estimates Committee B. The High Court of Australia is used as an example. We would have to go through the estimates of about four departments to find the detail of the total expenditure.

The suggestion has been made that one of the important steps to be taken is to enable the Estimates committees to follow through the total expenditure in relation to a program and not be confined by the way in which the Executive decides to break up the expenditure between various departments. To enable this to be done and to enable the Estimates committees to be more effective it has been suggested that there should be- the Senate has already agreed to this- a permanent research staff available to the Estimates committees and that the Standing Orders should be altered to enable the Estimates committees to have a permanent, ongoing life to be able to follow through the sort of investigation that is necessary if they are to do the job which was originally envisaged for them.

In a number of Estimates committee reports there has been reference to questions in relation to the Advance to the Minister for Finance. Senator Martin spoke a some length in relation to the report of Estimates Committee A. She referred to the fact that the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations has produced a report making certain recommendations about the way in which the Advance to the Minister for Finance should be controlled and supervised by the Parliament. 1 do not do more than refer to that report, to Senator Martin's committee report and to her statements tonight and say that I believe this is a matter of concern, from what has appeared in the Estimates committee reports, to the whole of this chamber. I do not think that it is good enough for the Government to continue not responding to the Estimates committees which have repeatedly drawn attention to this matter and to Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations which produced a report relatively early last year in relation to the matter. The Senate is saying that it wants an early response on this question in order to clear up some of the matters which are causing concern. I thank the Senate for the opportunity of concluding my remarks on behalf of Estimates Committee B. The Committee has recommended the approval of the Supplementary Estimates.







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