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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 974


Mr SPEAKER —For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Department of the House of Representatives for the period 1 January 1982 to 30 June 1983. Since 1978 the Department has prepared an annual report on a calendar year basis. However, with the proclamation of section 6 of the Public Service Acts Amendment Act 1982, a statutory obligation has been imposed on me, as Speaker, to ensure the preparation and tabling of a report by the Department in respect of each financial year. This is the first report since that requirement has come into effect, and therefore covers an 18-month period. I wish to take this opportunity to refer to some of the more significant developments of interest to me, as Speaker, and, I am sure, to honourable members.

First, I mention the transfer of Executive functions. All honourable members will be aware that there has been a move, having its origins in important constitutional principles of the independence of the Parliament, for the transfer from Executive control of a number of functions which concern honourable members. During 1982-83 Parliament has assumed responsibility for certain items which previously had been administered by Executive departments. However, discussions have continued in respect of the assumption of control covering a number of other, more significant, activities. These have included electorate office accommodation for senators and members, provision of services relating to the operation of electorate offices, provision of transport, and some other entitlements. These proposals affect both senators and members, and officers of the two principal departments have been involved in detailed discussion with Executive departments. Mr President and I are in agreement as to the course that should be followed and have arranged meetings with relevant Ministers to progress the matter at a policy level. We have directed that internal planning should proceed on the basis of assumption of policy and funding control in respect of the activities mentioned as from 1 July 1984. A considerable amount of work will need to be done within the parliamentary departments and the relevant Executive departments beforehand in order that this transfer can be accomplished without in any way diminishing the levels of services provided to honourable members and with minimal disruption at an operational level.

Secondly, I mention briefly developments in respect of information systems for the Parliament. Honourable members will be aware that Logica Pty Ltd was commissioned to advise in respect of information systems earlier in the year. I thank those honourable members who participated in this matter by the completion of questionnaires and by giving interviews to the consultants. As a result of that project I now have before me some very significant proposals which address the development of information systems between now and 1988 and also those systems possible for the new Parliament House. Honourable members will understand that these issues are complex and involve proposals which are potentially of substantial benefit to the Parliament as an institution, and to members individually, but which involve very substantial costs. Because of these two factors, amongst others, these matters will require most careful assessment. A large number of the possibilities concern the Parliament as a whole, not just members of the House of Representatives or the House of Representatives Department. Honourable members will therefore appreciate that I would not propose to take unilateral action on them, at this stage, but rather to ensure the early and most comprehensive analysis of the possibilities as a whole. I assure honourable members that they will be kept informed and consulted to the fullest degree necessary.

Lastly, it has become obvious to me that the Parliament generally has reached a high level of activity. This is manifested in a number of ways, but especially in matters such as the operation of parliamentary committees. A large number of honourable members are working extremely hard in their committee activities and do not need me to remind them of this. I mention this matter, however, as I wish all honourable members to be assured that the Department will make every effort to support the House, its committees and members in the discharge of their diverse responsiblities. I commend the report to the House.

Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.