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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2026

Mr HUMPHREYS(3.42) — Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I was rudely interrupted by the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) taking a point of order. I was quoting from a letter which appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail and which was signed by Professor Tarlo of the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland-a very eminent and distinguished Australian. Professor Tarlo pointed out that Senator Chipp was quite correct in saying that Mr Bjelke-Petersen was dividing the Queensland people. He also said:

What is worse is that the Premier obviously does not now have even the slightest regard for the intelligence of the people of this State who, according to his own inscrutable sources, are strongly backing him on all matters-

such as the one before us now. He continued:

The Tarong versus Millmerran issue is a good example of the way he conducts the affairs of government.

Does he seriously expect us all to believe, without any evidence other than his own assertion, that the State Electricity Commission was dishonestly attempting to mislead the government?

Why does he refuse to submit all the documents to an independent audit?

That is what we are talking about here today-an independent audit or a public accounts committee that can inquire into all these aspects. These accusations are not being made just by the Labor Party. It is not just we who are insisting that there should be a public accounts committee in Queensland. These accusations about the Premier of Queensland were also made by an honourable member on the other side of the House when he was a member of the Queensland Parliament. I refer to the honourable member for McPherson (Mr White). An article in the Melbourne Sun of Tuesday, 25 September 1979 states:

Mr White clashed heatedly with the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke-Petersen, in Parliament last Thursday over his allegations on Gold Coast land rezoning.

That is another instance of corruption in the Queensland Government.

Mr Wells —Who said that?

Mr HUMPHREYS —It was the Liberal member for McPherson. Another article on the same day stated:

A Liberal MP claimed in Queensland Parliament last Wednesday that a Melbourne businessman . . . had reportedly offered a $100,000 political gift in return for a favorable land rezoning decision.

These are the members of parliament who are running and controlling the Treasury benches in Queensland. These are the people whom we want to be accountable when they spend the Federal taxpayers' money. A Labor Opposition spokesman in Queensland, Mr Vaughan, the member for Nudgee, called in the State Parliament for a royal commission into the granting of a lease to the Winchester South coal mine authority to prospect in that area. A journalist who works for the Daily Sun and I think also for the Australian in Brisbane Mr Hugh Lunn-a very distinguished and honourable gentleman-in an article under the headline 'Leaked coal document strikes a tender financial spot', said:

No wonder Mr Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his National Party President, Sir Robert Sparkes, are so upset that someone has leaked a four-page document on a coal tender.

Mr Lunn said that the mine was worth $2,000m and that its value was rising. This money-$2,000m-is being dealt with by the Queensland parliamentarians and the Queensland Premier without their having any accountability whatsoever. Mr Lunn went on to say:

In the end, 99 companies grouped together into 32 concerns and tendered.

Some spent $500,000 on preparing exhaustive tenders to try to come up with the best deal for Queensland and themselves.

One can imagine the mountain of paperwork which would ensue from such a load of complex tenders-

All those companies-many of them probably reputable companies-put in tenders yet one tender was favoured without any members of the Queensland Parliament or any committee of that Parliament looking into such aspects as how much money would go to the State and how much money the taxpayers and the people of Australia would get out of this contract.

Mr Wells —Disgraceful.

Mr HUMPHREYS —It is absolutely disgraceful, as my honourable colleague said. That is why this matter has been called on today. The article went on:

Top State civil servants were amazed that since this was also a money decision, Treasury had not been consulted.

Once again, the Queensland Parliament did not even consult the Treasury. All honourable members of this very distinguished chamber known of the great duties performed-they were explained by the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Wells)-by our Joint Committee of Public Accounts. I have only to remind honourable members of the Joint Committee's Report on Medical Fraud and Overservicing. All aspects and duties of the Public Accounts Committee were spelt out by the honourable member for Petrie. Let us look at just two of the Committee findings. I quote from the report:

Based on schedule fees paid for the September 1980 quarter, the 'excess' for the year ending June 1981 was estimated to be $160 million.

We also find this:

The Department of Health has made a rough approximation that one-third of the total 'excess' is fraud.

One-third of the excess, $53m, was paid out fraudulently, as honourable members well remember. Those doctors who were destroying Medibank are probably still around. There are many genuine doctors but the rogues are there. They defrauded the Commonwealth of $53m. That was discovered by this Parliament's wonderful Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Why should Queensland not have a public accounts committee? I do not have to remind honourable members of what happened in Queensland. It was well publicised in the Press that eight Liberal members, including one Minister, Mr White, crossed the floor to try to get some accountability in the Queensland Government. Then Mr White was sacked. We all know what happened after that. But we do know that at least some of the people in Queensland were trying.

Mr Wells —They will not support him in this chamber.

Mr HUMPHREYS —No, they will not support him. They are sticking up for Joh Bjelke -Petersen. The Liberals on the other side and even the honourable member for Ryan (Mr Moore) were supporting Joh Bjelke-Petersen. I never thought I would see that day because they have been at loggerheads on many occasions.

Mr Wells —He would not say that he would support it.

Mr HUMPHREYS —Exactly, the honourable member for Ryan did not say that in this House. Yet how could he be a member of the Parliament and not support it? I suppose he does not support the Public Accounts Committee inquiry which caught the doctors who were defrauding the Government of $53m. I want to remind honourable members about another matter. I have another article about poor old Dr Llew Edwards. We all know what happened to Dr Llew. The article is headed: ' Llew moves to control the qangos'. I do not have a great deal of time left in this debate. Quasi-autonomous national government organisations in Queensland spent more than $3.6 billion last year. There are 687 bodies in Queensland. They include statutory authorities, marketing commodity boards and advisory councils. They have 3,677 appointed officers and employ 51,000 people. Although they spend these huge amounts of money-it is equivalent to the total revenue of the whole of Queensland in any one year-very few of them have to report to Parliament. Very few of them are required to submit any kind of annual report or any other sort of expenditure report. Is not that a total disgrace? Therefore, we have in Queensland an administrative system over which the Parliament has absolutely no control. We have a parliamentary system which has absolutely no control over these qangos. I could go on and on with the reports of corruption in the Queensland Government. We have huge amounts of detailed information on how the money is being incorrectly spent.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Debate interrupted.