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Social Welfare - Senate Standing Committee - Reports - Annual Reports referred to the Committee, May 1978

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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia


Report on Annual Reports Ref erred to the Committee

May 1978

Brought up and ordered to be printed 25 May 1978

Parliamentary Paper No. 3/1978



Report on


May 1978

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer ·


Senator Peter Baume (New South Wales), Senator w.w.c. Brown (Victoria) Senator D.J. Grimes (Tasmania) Senator J. I. Melzer (Victoria)

Senator T.J. Tehan (Victoria) Senator M.S. Walters


R.G. Thomson, The Senate, Parliament House, Canberra.




On 22 March 1977, the Senate resolved to refer to the

Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees for consideration and, if necessary, for report thereon, all annual reports of Government departments and authorities, including statutory corporations, laid on the table of the Senate. Accordingly, the following reports were referred to the

Standing Committee on Social Welfare:

*1. Hospitals and Health Services Commission - Third Annual Report, for 1975-76

*2 Commissioner for Employees' Compensation - Annual Report for 1975-76 *3. Health Insurance Commission - Second Annual Report, for 1975-76 *4. Royal Australian Air Force Veterans' Residences

Trust - Annual Report 1976 *5. Aboriginal Loans Commission - Annual Report for 1975-76

*6. National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation - Third Annual Report, 1975-76

**7. Commonwealth Police Force -Annual Report 1976

8. Commonwealth Police Force - Annual Report 1977 **9. Aboriginal Land Fund Commission - Annual Report 1975-76

**10. Norfolk Island - Annual Report for 1975-76

11. Repatriation Commission - Annual Report 1976-77

12. Aboriginal Land Commissioner - Report for year ended 30 June 1977

13. Director-General of Health - Annual Report 1976-77

14. Social Security - Annual Report 1976-77

15. Commissioner for Community Relations - Second Annual Report, for 1976-77


16. Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs - Review of Activities to 30 June 1977 17. Department of the Capital Territory- Annual Report 1976-77

18. Family Law Council - First Annual Report, for 1977.

* Report received by Parliament more than 6 months after end of period reported on.

** Report received by Parliament more than 12 months after end of period reported on.

General Observations

It will be noted that six of the reports were received by the Parliament more than 6 months, and three were received more than 12 months, after the end of the period reported on. The

Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, in a progress report presented on 14 September 1977, expressed concern at delays: in the presentation of annual reports to the Parliament. That concern is shared by the members of this Committee. We believe that more stringent efforts should be

made to avoid lengthy delays in the provision of information

which is essential to effective parliamentary scrutiny of the

operations of departments and instrumentalities. We shall continue to maintain a watch on the timeliness of the presentation of annual reports.

Another matter of concern is the lack of a comprehensive

list of statutory bodies whose annual reports are required to be submitted to the Parliament. We await with interest the

availability of a comprehensive list expected soon as a result of the work of our colleagues on the other Committee.


In order to ensure the future availability of this information on a continuing basis, we recommend that the Senate institute and maintain a register of statutory bodies. In it should be recorded particulars of all statutory authorities

whose annual reports are specifically required to be presented

to- the Parliament, together with the date of presentation of

each report in the Senate, and also particulars of all other

statutory bodies and the reporting requirements, if any, applying to them.

Comments on Specific Reports

The Committee, after examining the reports listed, sought

further information on comments in two of them.

Referring to the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, in his report for the year ended 30 June 1977, at page 4, commented:

A number of questions has arisen in regard to the operation of the Act and the carrying out of my functions.

In reply to an inquiry from the Committee for further information, the Commissioner has advised that he intends to elaborate his views in his next report. The Committee proposes, therefore, to keep a watching brief on this matter.

The Commissioner for Community Relations, in his annual

report for 1976-77, at page 27, stated:

The complaints received relating to law, justice, and general services available to the public are widespread and persistent. Complaints relating to public administration at the three levels have drawn varying responses.


On seeking particulars of the varying responses mentioned, the

Committee was informed in April 1978 (see Appendix 1), about

months after the report was presented to the Parliament,

that, with the exception of the Queensland Police, whose co-operation had been excellent, the Queensland Government had failed to respond to any matter of racial discrimination referred to it by the Commissioner. It is our understanding, from further communication with the Commissioner's Office, that

developments are expected in a number of these matters, and we

shall pay close attention to the Commissioner's comments in his next report.

We express our concern at the circumstances which have led

to the Commissioner's comment to us indicating an almost complete lack of response by the Queensland Government. While

we make no recommendation on the matter, we wish to bring it

to the attention :of the Senate for the consideration of any action which the Senate may desire.

The Senate, Canberra. May 1978


Peter Baume Chairman

... 2. 1978


I COMMUNITY RELATIONS Telephone: 61 3438 Telex: 62707

Dear Senator Baume,


The Office of the Commissioner Box E280, Canberra, ACT 2600,

Our reference 78/198

14 April 1978

You wrote to me on 14 March 1978 seeking amplification of a statement in my Annual Report for 1977 and for examples of the varying responses mentioned in it. Your letter was received on JO March 1978.

In the first instance, it might help to refer you to

the Schedule of Complaints and Cases at Appendix A to the Report and to the examples of Complaints Received and Processed at Appendix D. The first states the

types of respondents to each complaint and shows which ones are Government authorities along with the nature of each complaint. It seems to me that these two

combined with the other information in the Schedule gives a detailed picture of the Government administrations which are the subjects of complaints and the extent of the complaints at the three levels of Commonwealth,

State and Local Governments.

Examples of responses are contained in Appendix D at pages 101-117, 119-120, 122-128, lJl-lJ4.

The responses to complaints vary from no response to full co-operation. The Queensland Government for instance has failed to respond to any matter of racial discrimination referred to it by me, whereas the

Western Australian Government authorities have co­ operated fully. One exception in Queensland is in cases involving the Queensland Police Force where an effective liaison is maintained and co-operation

is excellent. Should you require additional information please let me know.

Senator P. Baume, Chairman, Standing Committee on Social Welfare, Parliament House, CANBERRA. A.C.T. 2600