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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2709

Mr KELLY (Wakefield) - The Opposition supports the Government's attitude on this matter. The previous Public Works Committee recommended, at the end of the last year before Parliament was dissolved, that the limit be raised from $750,000 to $1.5m. This recommendation was made because of the great work load that the Public Works Committee found that it had to carry in the last year of the last Parliament. When the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), as Chairman of the present Committee introduced the report of the previous Committee, which he was obliged to do under the Act, he made the statement, and I supported him, that the limit could very well be raised to $2m. As I am on record as saying that, I have to support it, of course, and I know that the Opposition supports it. I am very glad to hear that the Government is proceeding with an in-depth study. I know that the present Minister for Housing ami Minister for Works (Mr Les Johnson), who was a member of the previous Public Works Committee, is well aware, firstly, of the work load that the previous Committee carried, and secondly, of the arguments involved in the Public Works Committee hearing references from statutory authorities. I know that he will be looking at those arguments with care and with a background of experience.

I am not going to comment on this except to say that the Committee, under the chairmanship of the honourable member for Leichhardt, has sent to the Government a distillation of our thinking on this matter and on how we could alter our system of hearings so that we could deal with the references of statutory authorities if they were given to us. My own judgment is that with some streamlining of our procedures and with some alteration of our present system we could assume this duty. I think it would be valuable for the statutory authorities to have to justify their works before the Public Works Committee. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill.

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