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Tuesday, 31 July 1906

Mr GLYNN (Angas) .- We should have had a more lucid and fuller explanation from the Treasurer than we have had. Under section 54 of the Audit Act, it is provided that the Auditor-General may make recommendations for the more economical keeping of the public accounts, though I do not remember whether he has done so in his report. Statements have been made from which I infer that, with the existing staff, our auditing work cannot be done very effectively. I understand that the auditing of the accounts of some of the country postmasters is to be done by the clerks in their offices. It is an extraordinary arrangement that a subordinate should audit the accounts of his superior officer, and, to ray mind, indicates that the audit staff is, perhaps, overburdened by details in some cases. The Audit Act, however, enacts that, for the protection of the public interest, the Auditor-General " shall " do certain things. He " may," to facilitate the discharge of his duties, call persons in evidence, or call for the production of vouchers. But, in all provisions relating to the examining of accounts, it is laid down that he "shall" do certain things. The Bill provides for a dispensation under particular circumstances. Such a dispensation may be necessary, and, if so, we should grant it. I do not know of anv better arrangement than that provided for in the Bill.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister has promised to recommit.

Mr GLYNN - I regret that he has not given us a more elaborate explanation of the provisions of the Bill, to show why important checks should be modified.

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